Saturday 18th April
Nadir Shah, ruler of the Persian Empire attacked the Mughal Empire in 1739. At that stage India under the Mughals had been the world’s largest power (vying with the Ming Dynasty in China). They commanded a subcontinental golden age -a quarter of world GDP and industrial output, one of the three Islamic Gunpowder powers and ruling from the world’s largest castles, stationed over the Hindu and Sikh populace. Then Nadir came along, beat back a 300,000 strong army and sacked the capital, Delhi, massacring her inhabitants and taking 10,000 slaves. They also carted off the fabled Peacock Throne, Koh-i-Noor (Sea of Light) and Darya-i-Noor (Mountain of Light) diamonds, plus enough gold and riches for the entire Persian Empire not to be taxed for the next three years.
That helped considerably in the downfall of the Mughals, already embattled by the native Marathan uprisings (which in turn would go on to fragment into civil war, and allow the British and Dutch to keep bribing their way across the minor fiefdoms in a 270 year process). Thus the world’s largest manufacturer, steel, metal, minerals, food and textiles producer, shipbuilder and tertiary employer, with one quarter the global population and per capita wealth higher than in Europe, had by the 20th Century been transformed into a vast resources mine for the UK, and the world’s most profitable colony ever. A sum of $45 trillion in today’s dough has recently been estimated as to how much India bankrolled Britain.
Next time you look at our glorious Victorian architecture of the era, you can thank India for funding it -or Mr Nadir for putting it in process, the world’s greatest empire so fallen as to furnish the feet of the next one. So what a tangent.
Today is a nadir, from where the phrase was coined.
I have been thoroughly invaded by foreign foe, culture made stagnant. My industrial output redacted, trade winds poisoned and society curtailed, riven by domestic dispute and a new policy of isolationism. Kingdoms have fallen in this small flat.
As has played out across the land, and world. I think it’s all getting to us just about now, the 3-4 week mark tempting the winds of rebellion. My highlight of the week has been to get a takeaway. Salt baked squid with chilli from our local Chinese, though I suspect they kinda forgot the salt and we had to add it ourselves, and the squiddy itself wasn’t squidgy, more rubber as a sign of overcooking. But it was like a Michelin restaurant with ambient light and a piano tinkling, just to the screams of a tacky Netflix horror (The Girl From the Third Floor, 23 out of 40 on the horror cliché list) while the world burned.
Before this I’d been lost, sick of the computer, any gaming, any writing, any TV, and unarsed to read. I lay on the bed till I fell asleep, which has been the MO for the other two, who have taken to siestas midway. I even tried to cut n style my hair for something new, but chickened out into a halfway monstrosity, which is about as dispiriting as it can get. My futility exemplified by a hair crisis, like when you lose it in dreams and are utterly crumpled.
We’re all getting the cabin fever, and today marks a change. Tomorrow I’m going to read. Maybe write a bit. Fuck installing a rota, that doesn’t work. I’ve no energy to keep it up. I’ll need to go out and get some sunlight at some stage, though it may kill me, such is life at the mo.
Have been following the darling #VeryBritishProblems Twitter page,which is a sign things have reached a lowpoint. So not Twitter interested; my profile embarrassingly made up of nothing but complaints on public transport over the years -the only time I feel Twitter useful -as vent when no other avenues are available. So much so I had to change my handle to Transporta, like some kind of network nerd to justify the whining.
#VBP though is funny AF, though not quite reality. It goes far to portray our species as affable, endearingly ingratiating and anxiety-riddled. And yes, there are many of us far-too agreeable Brits about, but when interacting it’s not always the same apologetic partner to play off. And that congeniality only survives if it’s reciprocated.
Instead you’ll sometimes meet that steely gazed Ukipper/ Tory you pfaff and ingratiate yourselves around, making yourself suddenly ridiculous and public interaction a gauntlet, #VeryEthnicProblems. As a fellow Southerner there is a code which we all partake, and it only works if everyone is in on it. At once adorable and infuriating, often requiring a translator.
If a Southerner says:
“Yeah we should definitely catch up some time!” = Let’s never see each other again. Ignore me the next time, fool.
“If you don’t mind” = You’d better do this
“EXCUSE me/ SORRY, but” = How fucking dare you!
“Are you sure?” = I want you to do it but am embarrassed to say so
“Not bad” = quite good/ very good
“(pause)…lovely” = shit/ ugly
“fine” = shit / ugly
“interesting” = shit /ugly
“I’ll definitely” = I probably won’t
“so… planning any holidays?” = You bore me
“I don’t want to make a fuss” = I’m about to make a fuss.
“How’re you?” = I don’t care
“I’m fine” = I know you don’t care
“I’m fine. No really!” = fuck you
sigh/ slight flaring of nostrils/ upturned eyebrow/ look aside = fuck you
“I don’t want this to sound racist/ I’m not racist, but…” = I’m about to say something racist
“Many thanks in advance” = if you don’t comply there will be repercussions
Signing off an email with “Regards” = I hate you
Not putting an X (kiss) after every text = I hate you
“I’m a bit worried about Helen” = I’m about to character assassinate Helen. Let’s take her down, publicly.
“I’m just wondering” = I am about to make a statement/ confront you
“I’m a little concerned” = I’m very fucking concerned and disagree with you
“I’ll ring you right back” = I may ring you within the hour
“You’re gonna love him. He’s so funny” = he’s very ugly but you’re in his league
“sorry, it’s just not my vibe” = I do not like you, I do not want to be seen with you
“have a great time” = I really don’t care
“sorry to hear” = I really don’t care
__(nothing) = I hate you
__(nothing) = I’m secretly in love with you
__(nothing) = 42
To finish off, some castle porn. The world’s largest fortifications from Mughal India, though by dint of the British Raj’s decision to term them ‘forts’ (claiming their garrisons were stationed therein, and ignoring the royalty still inside), they aren’t recognised in the Guinness Book of Records. This despite several larger than the record holder, Hradcany in Prague (which isn’t even particularly defensive, a moniker in name only). Once again, the nuances of the Brit lingo perpetuates. But for what it’s worth, enjoy -the last vestiges of an empire: