Sunday, 20 July 2014

Countdown to War, Day 23. 20 July 1914: the US State Department learns some geography

One hundred days ago today, on Monday 20 July 1914, the Manchester Guardian confirmed the bad news Martin had read the day before: “Big Score by Surrey”.

What the heck. The Guardian was the local paper. They could at least show some pain. He’d expected no sympathy from the Observer, southern-based as it was, but the Guardian? Surely it would have a few tears for the woes of Lancashire? Instead they wrote of “Hobb’s brilliant century”. What’s brilliant about a century scored for the other side?

Still, things could be worse. Look at Mexico. He thought the departure of the ex-Dictator, Huerta, might mean the end of the troubles there, but it seemed everything was just starting up all over again.

Already the next revolution has begun. Pablo Orozco, who has been a Rebel at intervals for years past and was lately in Huerta’s service, has declared war on the new Government, whatever it may be.

It seemed a bit harsh, not to give the new lot even the slightest chance to prove what its worth. It made you thankful not to be living in such a place. Must be pretty awful to have all that fighting going on: how could you begin to make a living? Besides, it was a lot too hot, by all accounts.

That wasn’t the only story from America to catch his eye. It seemed that the canal that first the French, and then the Americans, had been building through Panama, to link the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, was due to open in a few weeks. Arranging the official ceremony had provided an opportunity for some in the US administration to improve their education. 

Panama Canal
Switzerland snubs the official opening
An important piece of knowledge has just been assimilated by the State Department at Washington. It is that the sister Republic of Switzerland, though equipped with the full paraphernalia of a State in other respects, has no navy. The fact is due not to any parsimony on the part of the Administration, but to the regrettable absence of a coastline.

A somewhat acrimonious dispute is at the moment raging in Washington as to the precise person on whom the responsibility should fall for not being acquainted with this interesting geographical particular before the invitation was sent to Switzerland to send a number of warships to take part in the opening of the Panama Canal.

The Swiss Government, it appears, has just replied regretting in the blandest diplomatic terms that it is unable to accept the invitation owing to the fact mentioned above that there are no warships belonging to the Alpine Republic.

The story of four sisters in the East End of London also provoked a smile:

Four sisters were married at St. Barnabas Church, Bethnal Green, on Saturday. Hundreds of people turned out to catch a glimpse of the brides, and the church filled so quickly that the doors had to be closed to prevent overcrowding... The sisters are orphans, and lived ... with another sister who kept house for them. They had been engaged for some time, and they realised that if one of them decided to leave and get married the financial loss ... might lead to the break-up of the home. Accordingly they agreed that the best way out of the difficulty was to go to the altar together. The other sister, it is understood, will live with one of the couples.

Not a bad day. All in all. Unfortunate news about the cricket, and even worse from Mexico, but that was a long way away. And then two stories to get cheerful about and nothing really disturbing from closer to home.

Yes, really not a bad day at all, 20 July 1914.

Dont count your chickens, said the Cynic.


Anonymous said...

I'd like to know more about the five sisters. Thanks for the rest of course.


Anonymous said...

The robot identifier is now back to normal.