Posts Tagged St. George

Peter, Paula and the Pelican

Peter, Paula and the Pelican.  Brent Cheetham.  Grosvenor House Publishing Ltd, Surrey, England.  ISBN 978-1-78623-019-5  Paperback. 41 pages.  Available from Amazon UK  https://www.amazon.co.uk/Peter-Paula-Pelican-Brent-Cheetham/dp/1786230194/ref=sr_1_fkmrnull_3?crid=25VZW7VKTDDKZ&keywords=brent+cheetham&qid=1552144194&s=gateway&sprefix=brent+cheetham%2Caps%2C179&sr=8-3-fkmrnull

IT’S BEEN a long time since I’ve read a children’s publication.  I’ve never reviewed one before, so I didn’t know what to expect.  Therefore, Peter, Paula and the Pelican was a first for me.  If that wasn’t enough, the author is an old mucker of mine, Brent Cheetham!

Published towards the middle of 2016, Peter, Paula and the Pelican is the first of several booklets he has written.  The others include The Rake’s Regression (Nov 2016), Ecstatic Essays (Apr 2017), andCuffley Capers (Aug 2017).

Before delving into any publication I always like to look at both the authors and publishers notes to get an idea of what I’m about to read. Peter, Paula and the Pelican was no exception.  Here I got a hint of thewhimsical nature of the booklet and the sense of humour employed by the author.  We are told that the book is:

‘a romp of a story, combining humour, pathos and nonsense for the edification of the young and the not so young adults who are still young at heart.  The author confirms that he has not yet had a visit from the men in white coats.

The author is aged 60, lives in the village of Cuffley, Hertfordshire, and still is partial to the odd peanut butter sandwich although he says he prefers a nice strong cup of English breakfast tea over a glass of ginger beer’.

Peter, Paula and the Pelican is set in England in 1925 and tells the tale of brother and sister Peter and Paula Brown who live in a cottage in the village of Sleepy Hollow.  Like many children they are getting under their mother’s feet so she sends them out to play.

Making their way to the local woods they come across hole in the bottom of a hedge which in turn leads to a large oak door.  Peter, who is the oldest, is all for opening the door.  Paula, on the other hand, worries in case there are ‘monsters, lions or dragons’ on the other side.  However, Peter notes that the last dragon was “killed years ago by somebody called St. George.”  (I thought that this was a nice way of weaving a little heritage and tradition into the book).

Disaster strikes when the door slams behind them as they become stuck in this ‘strange land’ that boasts two suns in the sky.  However, this is relatively normal compared to the adventure that follows and the characters they meet!

First up is a talking Pelican who informs them that they’re in Back to Front Land.  The only way of getting back home is to see the Prime Minister, Herbert Spencer.  He can gain them an audience with King Lupin the Second so that they get the key to unlock the door.  The King lives ‘in a big house in the big city’ but is unlikely to see the children ‘on account of the Brent.’

So who or what is ‘the Brent’?  In the best traditions of any children’s publication he is some form of ogre.  He ‘is a great big ugly giant, with moles on his face, who goes to the big city every now and again and demands peanut butter sandwiches and often knocks off chimney pots from the roof of the city houses’.

The Pelican has offered to take them to the ‘big house’ and so the adventure begins.  As mentioned earlier they meet some very weird and wonderful characters.  They include talking chickens who are knitting square egg cosies for the square eggs that they lay.  There’s also atractor-driving talking monkey, ‘silly sheep’ who have a problem as they never tell lies, a talking tablecloth, peanut butter mines (for some reason Back to Front Land seems to thrive on peanut butter) and a sign that points in two opposite directions – but to the same location!

Two more amazing characters include an owl who has such bad eyesight he has to wear glasses.  Indeed, this owl defies convention by coming out during the day – yes, you’ve guessed it, he’s a day owl as opposed to a night owl!  There’s also a retired dancing horse called Brian who talks absolute nonsense.  For instance, when asked what are the ingredients to carrot soup he replies ‘carrots and soup of course.’

I laughed at the method of transport that was taken to see the Prime Minister and King Lupin in the ‘big city,’ for Peter and Paula sat on Brian’s back whilst the Pelican perched on his head.  This must have been a sight for sore eyes.  Needless to say, Brian the nonsense horse talked absolute nonsense during the journey.

At last they reach their destination and manage to sort out ‘the Brent’ problem.  I don’t want to go into any detail how they did this – I don’t know if I’m over-thinking this part of the booklet, but I think much of what’s wrong with modern Britain can be explained here.  Read it for yourself and see if you come to the same conclusion.  The only thing I will say is that Paula is the hero of the hour.

I hope I’m not spoiling things by saying that the children make it home ok.  However, they do get some help from the Pelican, ‘the Brent’ and a bi-plane made of wood and canvas!

I must admit I really enjoyed Peter, Paula and the Pelican.  I chuckled to myself as some of what was said (especially by Mrs. Brown) brought back memories from my own childhood, which admittedly wasn’t exactly yesterday.  Typical English eccentricity flows through it – Peanut Butter sandwiches and Ginger Beer feature heavily – and I wondered how Brent (the author as opposed to the ogre!) managed to dream up these characters.   Indeed, where did he get his inspiration from?  It’s also Politically Incorrect in parts and the gender stereotypes would give the Orwellian ’thought police’ many a sleepless night.

The only downside were a few spelling and grammatical errors, which the author has acknowledged.  Hopefully, they’ll be sorted out in any reprint. However, they don’t really spoil this booklet at all and I’d happily recommend it to anyone who reads to their children.

  • Reviewed by John Field.

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Federalism for Britain

Cover of Caledonian Voice.

Cover of English Voice

Federalism for Britain: The NLP Launches two papers for England & Scotland.

JULY saw the launch of two new publications by the National Liberal Party (NLP), English Voice (EV), and Caledonian Voice (CV).  As their titles suggest, the former is produced for England and the latter is aimed at Scottish readers and thus they will function as the national NLP papers for England and Scotland.  Both papers are currently produced in a double-sided A4 format with the front page comprising eye-catching mastheads and lead articles with the reverse giving readers a general introduction to the NLP, its policies and its New Horizon e-zine.  EV is currently available online while CV is available both online and in printed form for distribution door to door.

The common theme of the first issue of both publications can be summed-up as ‘Federalism for Britain’ and revives the concept of ‘The British Family of Nations’ which was a strong strand of de-centralist thinking within nationalism in the 1980’s which sought to strengthen local and regional identities and culture and devolve power away from central government and down to the ordinary people.  At the time this represented a radical departure from what had been hitherto orthodox nationalist policy which looked very much to a centralist British Government and a blanket British identity.  With the question over Scotland’s future within the United Kingdom and calls for England to have its own Parliament, EV and CV bring a nationalist view to these debates.

CV leads with The Independence Referendum…..Is there a Third Way? and puts forward the option of Devo-Max as alternative to both outright separation of Scotland from the rest of the UK and the status quo.  Devo-Max seeks to devolve as much power to Holyrood from Westminster as possible leaving only issues common to the whole of the UK such as defence and foreign affairs vested centrally.  The NLP’s distinctive stance in calling for the establishment of an English Parliament and the introduction of citizens’ initiative referenda along the Swiss lines are also highlighted:

“The NLP supports the creation of an English Parliament and encouraging people across the United Kingdom to become involved in open and accountable systems of government at both local and national level that enable ordinary citizens to participate in the decision making processes that affect their daily lives.  The NLP calls for the introduction of Swiss-style citizens’ initiative referenda to ensure that the majority can be heard on issues that the political elite would rather ignore”.

EV carries the bold headline DEVO-MAX FOR THE ENGLISH and pulls no punches when it lays out the anomaly of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland having their own parliaments or regional assemblies while England has none:

“DISCRIMINATION! That’s the only way to describe the way the Westminster establishment treats England and the English people. One of the main reasons England is discriminated against is because every other nation in Britain has some form of self-government. But England has none!”

 

EV then continues to point out other areas where England is disadvantaged relative to the other parts of the United Kingdom, such as the “West Lothian Question”, posed by the Labour MP Tam Dalyell back in 1977, which highlights how MPs from Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales can vote on purely English matters in the House of Commons while under devolution English MPs could not vote on the same matters concerning those other parts of the UK.  EV puts forward the creation of an English parliament under Devo-Max as the way to address the imbalance with the rest of the United Kingdom.

Both English Voice and Caledonian Voice are produced to a high standard with impressive layouts that attract the reader.  CV has been produced in printed form with the aim of being distributed especially in small towns and rural areas that do not often see any form of political campaigning.  It will be interesting to see what the response is.  Readers interested in distributing CV door to door in their areas should contact the NLP’s office for details of how copies can be sent to them.  I understand that issue two of both papers should be out before the end of the year.

Both papers are also available via e-mail.  To get hold of them, e-mail natliberal@aol.com and ask for your FREE pdf copy of Caledonian Voice and English Voice.

Reviewed by Andrew Hunter

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