In the days when possessing the Seven Seas meant domination of the globe and almost all things therein and thereupon there was once an Englishman who could neither swim nor tell stern from bow, who suffered seasickness and always put his back out climbing into a hammock

To those prepared to take heed of his words he would tell of his times as a consul and how and why he fulfilled the jingoist’s dream of painting the planet pink

“You see I was able simply through my knack of blending vermilion with a daub of white upon my palette to carefully combine the perfect pink…did the trick alright…they couldn’t get enough of it if the truth be told”

It was at this juncture Topsy the precocious nose picking schoolgirl butted in, “What exactly did you paint pink?”

“Anything and everything my dear…the whole kit and caboodle…but a map mainly…map of the world”


“To reveal to one and all, especially so the doubters that we rule the world…look see for here is the very map I talk of”

“Some bits aren’t pink…loads of bits in fact…there, there and over there…why aren’t they painted pink?”

“Ah young Topsy you must understand what could not be painted thus was not worth having…nothing more”

“Oh…did you get paid lots and lots of money then?”

“I should really overlook this rather cheeky question young lady but would say ‘yes’ that I am quite comfortably off thank you very much…I have a lifetime’s stock of tobacco from the New Lands and more cotton shirts than I’ll ever need; from Southern Africa I have gold and diamonds galore; from the Orient I have spices aplenty to cook with and several wardrobes of silk dresses for my dear wife Mary; from the Indian sub-continent I have my tea…I do love a fine cuppa and the Darjeeling is to die for and, of course from West Africa I have my darling slave girls to amuse me”

“What about Australia why do you have nothing from that place, its pink after all?”

“Well we just use it as a place to house our miscreants…out of sight out of mind if you get my drift…besides only strange looking native types live there…well them and the kangaroos and who in their right mind would want a kangaroo I ask!”

“I do, I’d love one! Did you have to pay for all these things you have though?”

“Well not with real money child, no not with money…take my gold and diamonds from Southern Africa for example, we, my employers that is, exchanged such things for our glorious religion and the right to thereafter rule over them…pretty fare trade I think you’ll agree?”

“And the slave girls, surely you had to pay for them?”

“Well the chaps of the New Lands who own the tobacco and cotton plantations had to buy them from our slave traders, but mine…just a bit of bunce really…a thank you for all my hard work if you like. You see the plantation owners were ever so grateful I was able to source cheap labour from those lands north of the Gulf of Guinea from whence we globalized the little cottage industry that was slave trading…we are a rather clever lot you see!”

“Why are we called ‘GREAT’ Britain not just Britain?”

“For all the reasons I have just given…surely you can see that?”

“Doesn’t sound so ‘GREAT’ to me Sir…especially if you are a slave…being ‘owned’ sounds awful”

“You don’t need to understand these things or ever will Topsy for you are just a girl…whatever I must take of my leave…I have a hymn to write……good day Topsy”


43 thoughts on “TOPSY’S PUZZLEMENT

  1. They didn’t paint Australia pink because it’s actually spelt (spelled?) and pronounced Straya. Also, the precocious nose picking schoolgirl sounds like me, I picked an absolute winner this morning!

    Are you ‘owned’ by Shirl Mike? Or is it equal footing?

    1. I rather like Topsy you know…needed a kid to see through all the rubbish about this ‘once great nation’ named Great Britain when logically all it ever has been is a ‘once powerful nation’ with a not too good history…well done Topsy I say.
      In answer to your most splendid question, yes I am probably owned by Shirley but in the way one would own a pet rather than a slave…’tis a vice versa thing I think as well.

      1. So beautiful , the you and Shirl bit, not the once powerful nation bit. Most of your political talk goes way over my head Mike

      2. If you can keep you head away from politics then that is a good thing…as Billy Bragg once said, ‘Will politics get me the sack’…hellish wind blowing today. Saw the new Star Wars and when R2D2 showed up I thought IF IT might not mind the nickname IFIT.

    1. Cheers Geetha…you know it would be better to refer to Britain as ‘this once powerful nation’ rather than ‘this once great nation’ as in Great Britain! I believe our dubious history proves my point.

      1. I think you are correct in terms of the people whereas sometimes, as British history reveals, those running a nation can cause misery to those regular people living within the nations they conquer…bit sad but I hope your heart theory does win out eventually.

  2. Loved this. I always think, when I look at the straight lines that now constitute borders between a number of countries in Africa and elsewhere that the divisions must have been decided upon by a pretty bored civil servant in Whitehall whose descendants, no doubt, went on to perform as vigilant traffic wardens across the length and breadth of this apparently once great country.

    1. Bored civil servants putting random lines on maps…I recall reading that that was the very case when the line twixt India and Pakistan was first drawn. What havoc that followed this pen pushers pre liquid lunch doodling’s!

  3. Hmmm, that first hamster..sory hammock climbing paragraph was pure genius. Of course up here in Bonnie Scotland we ain’t struck on a certain one–let us differentiate– of Topsy’s creator’s, that these Highland clearing landowner’s are so good Mrs Beecher Stowe. But whatever Topsy, shades of brilliance Mike, shades of brilliance x

    1. I was toying with renaming it the English Empire for it was basically the English with their evil deeds that effectively conquered Scotland and Wales before setting off to subjugate the rest of he planet…and people often ask me why I wear the EU badge and call myself a European…who in their right mind would want to be considered English I often ask myself!

      1. Mike, this is why I adore you cos you are a true guy that way. Nowt like these other rabid folks many of whom live down south, but there’s so many nice folks live there too x

      2. Young Nicola is I hope my trump card when it comes to staying in the EU. She knows Scotland would be better off as part of the EU than part of the UK so if English idiots (who will inevitably have the majority in terms of number of votes cast) vote to leave then Nicola merely puts her foot down and calls for another referendum…job done. The English may then think that little England will be left all alone…an unimportant entity. A reality check methinks!

      3. Mike, I take my bunnet aff tae ye. There you go. I was brought up as a Socialist in a very poor area and became unashamedly, having studied the history of it all, someone who felt Scotland did not belong with London policies way back. My dad, a very good guy- deputy Lord Provost and all , who I adored to bits even when he next offered to put me out the house over voting SNP , ( being me I said, so I am going, it’s fine.) never got that whole bit of history. I think unfortunately there are so many stereotypes. Like cos you believe in an independent Scotland you are anti English, which is rubbish when some of the nicest people I know are from down south. it is never a question of that. It is this what we call ‘days of the bloody Raj’ mentality that stumps us here . I well see you know it exists xxxx

      4. For some obscure reason there is a small part of me that would like to see Nicola running the whole of the UK as Labour Prime Minister! It plainly cannot happen yet I think she’d make one hell of a fist of the job.
        That said I once wrote a skit about a possible invasion of England by the Scots had the referendum gone in the Nationalist favour. The satire was based around the entire British Army having been made up of only pissed up Scottish squaddies with the only Englishmen in it being the cigar smoking, Eton educated softy officers! Whatever, if the Scots gain independence and stay in Europe (which I believe will happen) and England stands alone outside Europe I shall claim Scottish citizenship for being a European is fundamental to my politics.
        Prior to the EU each and every decade or so the nations of Western Europe have been at war, mothers losing sons, wives husbands etc. Since the gathering together of nations Germany, France, Britain etc. have not been fighting each other for 70 years (a record in modern history). To the EU knockers this fact alone, above all others should (yet doesn’t) make them Europeans.
        Rant over I shall prepare for an early outing to watch Star Wars…not sure why yet it has some appeal.
        Have a splendid day.

      5. You rant any time Mike. I will make you an honorary Scot. I don’t know if you have ever heard of a play called The Cheviot, The Stag and the Black, Black Oil. We saw the revival recently. It is an amazing play, worth reading for so many things you say Enjoy your day

  4. This is an interesting write and the point of views you used to express your thought was clever.
    I think most times we overcomplicate things to justify why we do we do.
    Keep it simple like a child and truth shines true.

  5. Whenever I meet someone from Great Britain I always say, “What brings you to the colonies and how do you like it so far?”
    My wife and I spent a few days in London in 03′. I now wish we would have gone beyond the city and into the countryside. London has more of the feel of an international city. I wanted to be among Englishmen.

    1. Bill Bryson, the American writer who lived here for many a long year wrote Notes From a Small Island. It was published a couple of decades ago I think yet is as valid today as it was then. If you have not read it and are thinking of England in the future it may give you some useful clues. Certainly this old nation has places where one can squeeze history out of thin air. Happy New Year Kenton.

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