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Leviticus 213/84: On this day .... Space Guardians ....

We celebrated Bonnie Prince Charlie's Birthday. There were two calendars in use across Europe in 1745 when The Prince formally celebrated his 25th birthday in Glasgow. Pope Gregory had it as 31st; Pope Julian preferred 20th. Julian or Gregorian? The continent had gradually adopted the change to Gregorian but in Britain we waited with Julian until 1752! When it happened "we lost 11 days." December 31st would have been most appropriate since The Prince was born when the Gregorian calendar was in use in Rome - had been since 1582. On December 20th he was still 11 days younger than a birthday justified …. which is why the 1745 Association has opted for 31st. Yet, like The Prince, it seemed to us a good notion to celebrate in the run up to Christmas rather than getting entwinned with New Year - a long established festival attributed in Scotland to invading Vikings in the 8th/ 9th centuries who paid particular attention to the arrival of the Winter Solstice or the shortest day. In Shetland, where the Viking influence remains strongest, New Year is still called Yules which derives from the Scandinavian word for the midwinter festival of Yule.
Arran Johnston offered two thoughts for the occasion. At lunch time he screened a whimsical 3 minute YouTube tale of the painting of a portrait of The Prince by Ramsay at The Palace of Holyrood House - in fact the filming was in the James Park Bistro of The Gothenburg! Since the idea was conceived there has once again been controversy over whether Ramsay truly was the painter … comme-ci comme ça! And at 8pm Facebook shared an over-subscribed hour long ZOOM Webinar 300th Birthday of Bonnie Prince Charlie. It was as usual a tour de force with Arran boxed top right of images 2 and 3, but he made less reference than he might have done to his earlier Valour Does Not Wait. It had great attendance and augurs well for the putative programme in 2021 we intend and I'd like to think we can get Doline Maclennan to include a Gaelic singing and poetry selection as one of the sessions. The second images shows a generous selection of portraits and the third stars from the movies; the fourth of course shows our 'own' portrait of The Prince.

December 20th has often been a remarkable day … … and here' a selection of events across more than two centuries! In 1803 the US completed the Louisiana Purchase from France for US$15,000,000 at a ceremony in New Orleans. [That was more expensive than the successful offer of $US7,200,000to Russia which secured Alaska in March 1867. In 1946 a US$100,000,000 offer to Denmark for Greenland was rebuffed; Donald Trump tried again in 2019 but rebuffed, settled for giving a significant grant for economic development there.] In 1832 HMS Clio under the command of Captain Onslow arrived at Port Egmont under orders to take possession of the Falkland Islands whilst in 1860 South Carolina becomes the first state to secede from the United States. In 1915 the last Australian troops are evacuated from Gallipoli and nine years later in 1924 Adolf Hitler was released from Landsberg Prison after just 9 months of a 5 year sentence for treason! Whilst there he had dictated Mein Kampf to fellows Emil Maurice and Rudolf Hess. In 1942 Japanese air forces bombed Calcutta, India. By 1946 peace had been restored and the Christmas film It's a Wonderful Life was first released in New York City. In 1951 the EBR-1 in Arco, Idaho became the first nuclear power plant in the world to generate enough electricity to power 'four' light bulbs. In 1955 Cardiff was proclaimed the capital city of Wales and two years later in 1957 the Boeing 707 made its first flight. In 1973 Prime Minister of Spain, Admiral Luis Carrero Blanco, was assassinated by a car bomb attack in Madrid and in 1984 the Summit Tunnel fire, one of the largest transportation tunnel fires in history, sees a freight train carrying over one million litres of gasoline derail near the Todmorden in the Pennines. 1987 sees the worst peacetime sea disaster, passenger ferry Doña Paz which sinks after colliding with the oil tanker MT Vector in the Tablas Strait of the Philippines killing an estimated 4,000 people. It also sees the US invasion of Panama which deposes Manuel Noriega. In 1999 Macau, following Hong Kong in 1997, is handed back to China by Portugal. Finally in 2019 the US Space Force becomes the first new branch of its Armed Forces since 1947 and this very day Vice President Mike Pence declared that its members wished to be and should for the future be known as Guardians.

Published Date: December 20th 2020

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