Total Pageviews

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

'Tom' Maitland and his successors

A message on Flickr:
Hello Simon, as I'm just back from Corfu I did a search on Maitland and the first thing on Google was your photo page! You mention research on the protectorate - have you written anything on this issue? Thanks, joanne
Hullo joanne. Thanks for your interest in my interest. I gave a talk a few years ago at the Durrell School on the different British High Commissioners and some of the circumstances around their time in office. This starts with Sir Thomas Maitland (1816-23), though the first Commissoner (Maitland, typically, added the 'High') was Sir James Campbell).
[Use pause to view specific slides and images] 
You may already have seen my references to Maitland and to Ionian Lord High Commissioners on flickr and also on my blog Democracy Street:
Apart from my interest in this subject my search for more history was spurred by a request from a neighbour and local historian in the village of Ano Korakiana, asking if I could find a particular letter in the UK archives about the Ionian Protectorate (my help in this was the fine scholar who I mention often - Eleni Calligas*). Here is a reference tho' to that 'letter' or 'petition' which several years later I've still not found tho' the search for it has taken me to interesting places.
Search around in my blog for further references to Maitland - an unnattractive fellow; an ill-mannered manipulative bully who, despite being the governor of a protectorate, tried to treat the ionian islands as a British colony**. Best wishes, Simon
Walter Frewen Lord - author of Sir Thomas Maitland - Mastery of the Mediterranean (1897) - provides a credible account of his subject's behaviour towards the Swiss engineer De Bosset; one incident that especially supports my ill-opinion of Maitland. Lord is by no means prejudiced against his subject, treating Maitland as just the official to sustain 'mastery of the Mediterranean' and British standing among the Ionians. Charles Philippe De Bosset was an Ionian road builder. His tale should be rehearsed lest the building of the Ionian road network - an excellent project - be credited to Maitland rather than recorded as something that happened despite him as a result of the endeavours of a hard working professional.
Colonel De Bosset 
Maitland who wasn't keen on 'foreigners' meant to drive De Bosset out of Corfu. De Bosset reported himself to the new Lord High Commissioner, and was immediately invited to dinner, and afterwards, on the 6th of February 1817, to a ball.
In the ball-room Maitland pointedly and deliberately approached the colonel; and the other guests fell away out of respect and left His Excellency and his victim face to face, with no one within earshot. Hence we have only De Bosset's word for what followed. But there are such volumes of evidence on the whole case, and De Bosset's word was so continually and fully substantiated, that we cannot avoid noticing his account of this short interview, and indeed it is only too likely a story.
 "Colonel De Bosset,'" said the great man, "I am very glad to welcome you to Corfu, and to say that I think you had much better go away. You have many enemies here, and you would do better if you went away as soon as possible."
The unhappy man could only stammer incoherently in reply to so fierce an assault ; whereupon Maitland, smilingly and ingratiatingly, with every possible mark of affectionate attention, repeated his menace. De Bosset could only bow, and leave the ball. Next morning he called on the military secretary and asked what it all meant. After so broad a hint, he said, there was nothing to do except to go. Perhaps the Lord High Commissioner had some plan to that end that he might fall in with. But Hankey*** would not help him.
"There was nothing in it all" he said; everybody had noticed how drunk His Excellency was, no doubt he had forgotten all about it by now. But no man in De Bosset's position could rest satisfied with such an answer.
"It may be," he replied, "that His Excellency was drunk, although personally I cannot think it. His speech was quite plain, startlingly plain, and no drunken man could so command his features as to threaten me with ruin while apparently he was overwhelming me with compliments."
But Hankey stood by his chief. Sir Thomas was drunk, and there was an end of it.
"Granted, then," said De Bosset, "since you will have it, that His Excellency was drunk, there still remains a proverb that you will be acquainted with, and that I take leave to remind you of, in vino veritas : and there is the question to which I have received no answer — How am I to go away?"
It is to be presumed that the military secretary had his cue, for he would say nothing. It was not Maitland's intention that De Bosset should be honourably retired; he meant to expel him ignominiously. When this had been achieved, and the quarrel thus artistically rounded off, the unhappy man made his way to England and waited on the Duke of York.
"Nobody," said His Royal Highness, "could take away an officer's commission except His Majesty, and the colonel might rely upon his assurance as commander-in-chief that this would not be done without the fullest investigation." 
De Bosset recovered his reputation though the sense of grievance he had experienced in his encounters with Maitland runs through his book - Parga, and the Jonian Islands comprehending a refutation of the various Mistatements on the Subject: with a report of the Trial between Lieut. Sir Thos. Maitland ... and the Author. Maitland was discredited in ways that would probably not have bothered him. The Ionians lost a road builder.

*Eleni Calligas (1994) The Rizospastai (Radical-Unionists): Politics and nationalism in the British Protectorate of the lonian Islands, 1815-1864 - follow this link to her Phd thesis.
**…the despotism erected by Maitland in the lonian Islands was not solely the result of his own initiative. Earl Bathurst (Secretary of State for the Colonies) laid down the general policy, with which Maitland was in complete agreement, and Maitland distinguished himself by the ingenuity with which he carried out these orders. W.C.Dixon (1969) The Colonial Administrations of Sir Thomas Maitland, New York.  Ref in Eleni Calligas (1994) p.34
***Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Frederick Hankey, Secretary to the Lord High Commissioner of the Protecting Sovereign etc
*** *** ***
Mike, a passing supporter, Denise and Lurleen - helping tidy Church Vale
Knife in the nettles - bagged and handed in to the police
We found a knife deep in the nettles in a flowerbed full of nettles on the edge of Church Vale in Handsworth. It was bagged up, untouched, and dropped off at Thornhill Road Police Station.  Handsworth Helping Hands team were exploring the nature of litter and dust in one part of their area, tidying up with some help from our local Councillor Waseem Zaffar, who's been awarded the MBE for services to the voluntary sector...
Mike, Rajinder, Oscar, Simon, Lin, Waseem, and John in Church Vale, Handsworth
The Council waste contractor sent a refuse truck and crew to collect heavy rubbish like furniture and building material.
Cleared of litter and nettles, prepared for replanting
We collected 40kilos - according to the weighbridge at the Holford tip - of small stuff along with two small crates of bottles and plastic for recycling. There was trash in nooks and corners that had not been cleared for months or even years - such detail; an urban archaeologist's dream; crimp bottle tops, fag-ends - nicotine and spliff - ring-pulls, gum wrappers, many other sweet wrappers, newspapers, plastic bags, fliers, tissues in every stage of decay, cans, bottles - plastic and glass (all recycled) - coupons, fast food wrappings and cups of paper and polystyrene, odds and ends of cellophane, string, plastic lighters...all these in kilos collected in grey plastic bags mainly by hand. Church Vale has recycling bins and four litter bins dotted in a space hardly 60 yards by 50. As we left after tidying as best we could an old man who'd gazed in our direction as we went about our worthy work dropped his fast food wrapper and cardboard box in the gutter between two litter bins 20 yards apart. As E.M.Forster might have said "Only collect"
Dropping off 40 kilos in-grey sacks at Holford Drive Waste Collection Centre
There is a rich litter on the psychology of littering with myriad proposals about persuading people to keep their neighbourhood clean. I recall a friend of friend - a US psychologist (I'll find his name) working with the Australian Parks Service, with a record of valued work in Scotland and other parts of the world - who said it wasn't helpful to just get vexed about this. "You get angry about litter because you project onto the person who does it the feelings of shame you'd have if you or your children were to do the same thing. Understand, Simon, that people who drop litter are coming from a different place than yours. Until you understand their behaviour, you cannot begin to find effective ways of persuading people not to do it". Here's an example of one 'nudge' against litter  - make litter bins orange. Hm.
See Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein. It's all about libertarian paternalism = the union of two political notions commonly viewed as being at odds. The book's theories, research and suggestions are interesting some governments including ours. I like humming a tune from a hymn whose 17th century words - George Herbert's - I like a lot. I learned it as a child -
...nothing can be so mean,
which with this tincture, "for thy sake,"
will not grow bright and clean.
A servant with this clause
makes drudgery divine:
who sweeps a room, as for thy laws,
makes that and the action fine.
*** *** ***

Hardly finished the clean-up on Church Vale I'm with Aftab Rahman and Jo Burrill in a meeting room at the Birmingham Asian Resource Centre (BARC) at 110 Hamstead Road, so Jo can go over the £200  Bronze award from the Small Environmental Grants Scheme prepared by Aftab on behalf of Legacy WM - a pilot project in partnership with Victoria Jubilee Allotments and Legacy WM to raise awareness of recycling, composting, growing food and cooking them. "I've never been audited in such detail for so small a sum" murmured Aftab. But funding everywhere is getting tougher along with its oversight. Even for our £200 it makes sense.  The grant will be used to help... with young people from the Bangladeshi Youth Forum and older people from B,ham Asian Resource Centre to demonstrate what can be done in people’s gardens and how food can be prepared.  We will host two cooking days in the Victoria Jubilee Allotments and raise awareness of the benefits or eating organic food and encourage people to take similar initiatives in their own homes.  It will also look at the negative impact of fast food on health....
Jo went over Legacy WM's eligibility - charity number and account details for instance. Aftab will bring cooking and catering kit to the Victoria Jubilee Allotments. I'm liaising with the Allotments' Association and plotholders to arrange a day in August and another in September for Aftab to visit the VJA site and prepare meals from crops brought him by gardeners. After the meeting I took Jo, Aftab and Ashok (manager of BARC) for a walk around the VJA, to see where a table could be set up for cooking, to meet a couple of gardeners on the busiest plots and check the range of vegetables growing there as well as to show them over my plot  - which at least had about seven different things (other than weeds) growing on it - onions, potatoes, cabbages, sprouts, broad beans, runner beans, with seeds of parsnip, tomato and spinach and several young fruit trees, blue berry shrubs, a vine and a clematis and the flowers Lin has planted in narrow beds at the top of the plot.
Aftab has also won rather more money for a project conceived last year - a heritage trail in Lozells and East Handsworth with which I assisted. This area has some amazing historical buildings that have played a significant role in shaping modern Britain.  For example ‘St Mary’s Church’ was where Mathew Boulton met as part of the Lunar Society, the Birmingham Asian Resource Centre building was the ‘Toll House’ that collected taxes on route to ‘Aston Manor’ and there is St Mary’s Convent which was designed by Pugin. There are a number of other, very significant buildings in the area. Our aim is to identify these buildings and establish the roles that they had when they were built and look at what they are used for now.  We will work with the people that occupy the buildings now, and establish their knowledge of what the premises were used for.  We will also work with historians to get their perspective.  We will write a book/booklet with this information. This was my supporting letter:

Dear Aftab
My family and I have lived in Handsworth since 1979. I’ve worked at Birmingham University since 1973, where I remain a part-time visiting lecturer attached to the Institute of Local Government Studies. Outside my university work, I’ve been involved in voluntary work over many years, starting the Handsworth Allotments Information Group, campaigning to save urban growing space, submitting evidence to the Parliamentary sub-committee on ‘The Future for Allotments’. I am a supporter of Living Streets, previously the Pedestrian Association, and of campaigns for improved transport and safer conditions for walkers and cyclists. I have written a history of the founding of Handsworth Park, co-founded Handsworth Park Association in 1992, given evidence to the Environment Sub-committee on ‘Town and Country Parks’ and featured in BBC documentaries about allotments.
I am enthusiastic about your proposal to develop a Heritage Trail in Lozells and East Handsworth. There are many layers of history in this area – past and in the making. It is important for people’s sense of identity and place, and therefore community, that they should have opportunities to align the trajectories of their own journey to this area with those of the people who have preceded them.
We recognize the importance of signs, maps and landmarks for navigating the present - whatever our means of getting about. A Heritage Trail, designed as you intend, will transform an ordinary journey into time travel.
In the hands of enthusiastic and knowledgeable guides, such as the ones you plan to train, those fortunate enough to participate will be able to enrich their sense of place, gaining sensitivity to their own part in its rich history.
For participants, from inside and outside Handsworth and East Lozells, a trail of the kind you have in mind – one that can be followed by everyone in ways that include access for those with limited mobility - offers an opportunity to re-create, in a defined area of the city, an account of the industrial revolution, the connections forged here to a novel global economy, life endured through the ordeals of war, fascinating changes in the composition of the area’s inhabitants as this inner suburb became the one we know today.
In recent decades the narrative of this, and other inner suburbs of Birmingham, has too often been recounted as urban pathology. We who live here know its ‘notoriety’ is grossly exaggerated, even groundless; that this place is rich in good surprises. A Heritage Trail through its places and spaces – of which you had space to mention just a few - will be a means of imparting a truer and deeper picture of the area, embedding, in the course of an entertaining tour, wonderful stories about ourselves and our neighbours; our ancestors and theirs.
I am happy to support this initiative, willing to join any steering group that might help the project into fruition, and willing to offer my voluntary support as you develop your proposal. Yours sincerely, Simon Baddeley
*** *** ***
And still it rains - and thunders - pouring, rattling even seeming to roar on the roof, spurting from the down pipes, pouring over the rim of the water butt and the roof gutters, clattering and rumbling, grey on grey...
...and then the rain stops, the clouds open to the sun. I gently picked up carried a grounded bumble bee that had landed through the opened door of our conservatory to a drying step. it's gone on its way...before the clouds reconvened and rain and thunder returned.
*** *** ***
Our ward member, Councillor Waseem Zaffar, has now had a meeting with Ghaz Hussein about the continued delay on the delivery of playing fields to the area (background) and replied to me and Sted Wallen:
Simon/Sted. I have met with Ghaz this afternoon to discuss a number of things including the section 106 money for developing the Victoria Jubilee Playing Fields. Ghaz is as disappointed as us that this project hasn't been completed. I can assure you that he is on the case and is working on the implementation of this project. I suggest we give Ghaz 3-4 weeks before we all meet to determine progress with this as I think Ghaz will be in a position by then to report a lot more than if we met in the next week. What do you think? Many thanks, Waseem Zaffar Waseem,
This is very good  news, that Ghaz is going to try and get some answers and hopefully we can make some progress after several years Simon , myself and others have said the developer must deliver on what was agreed. The developper has already starved our community of a much need asset and we must not only get them to deliver but pay the required compensations...take full responsibility for failing to deliver on the conditions of the planning application which allowed them to build their houses. I am please that finally we may get some answers...and hopefully our playing fields and associated facilities. Many thanks and look forward to our meeting with yourselves in 3 weeks or so. Regards, Sted

Dear Waseem. Thanks for this. I agree. Unless there’s anything you or Ghaz would want to share about reasons for the delay but which should remain private I will assume i can continue to report ‘progress’ on my blog. My anxiety is that there is some legal clause hidden in the 2004 S106A that lets Persimmon off the hook on delivering the full contract, and that part of the ‘hook’ is that its existence has to be kept confidential. We came across something like a decade after, in connection with a flawed grounds maintenance contract for Handsworth Park in the early 1990s. The previous grounds maintenance contractor’s lawyers had BCC over a barrel when it came to enforcing the terms of a contract with too many loop holes for exceptions. I only learned about this because one of my graduate students writing an essay on compulsory competitive tendering (CCT) and by then working for another council explained the flaws in Brum's original grounds maintenance contract, so that during those years local people here who complained vehemently about problems in Handsworth Park were blanked by members and officers legally forbidden to reveal the real reasons why work that should have been done was not being done. Best wishes, Simon
Victoria Jubilee playing fields site off Crick Lane, Handsworth~ 28 June 2012

No comments:

Post a Comment

Back numbers

Simon Baddeley