Culture English Sayings Thoughts Travels

Not British

Oh Poo Poo, our cultures are not the same.

“Wait your turn”, or “First come, first served“, “Respect your elders“, “Do what you are told“, were instilled in me from the day I was born, British sayings that have guided me through my life, are now pulling at my heart strings as I continue to travel, not only the world, but the British Isles.

If two people stand behind another person in Britain, you can be sure, others will join the queue. They will not perhaps know what they are waiting for, but but they will form an orderly queue.

As a small boy, I remember catching the bus to visit my Grandmother or go shopping, and when we arrived at the bus stop, we would mentally work out how many people had arrived before us, and as more people arrived, who was the person who had arrived immediately after us and the sequence of people arriving after them. We were forming a queue, a sequence of order of those who arrived first would get on the bus first, followed by the next person, and so on and so forth.

In the shop, we knew who was before us and who had arrived after us, and thus we had order, “first come, first served“, and if the shop assistant went to serve a customer out of order, the customer would say, “No, I think that person was before me“.

We had respect for others, we had order, we knew our place, we knew the rules, written and unwritten, we knew we must “wait your turn” rule.

At school, queuing was further instilled in us, as before classes we would be required to stand in an orderly line, a queue, not saying a word. Sometimes this queue was further defined by height, or alphabetically by family name or by the sequence in which we sat in the classroom, those sitting at the back would be first in the queue and those sitting at the front of the classroom would be last in the queue.

Large Queue outside EuroRail, London
Large Queue outside EuroRail, London

For my non British readers you can see this in action when watching the tennis on your TV of Wimbledon, where people will queue to buy tickets, and these queues are very long, or when there is a sale at a shop like Harrods in London, or the launch of a new product like the Apple iPhone, people will start queuing days before the start of the sale, bringing along beds and blankets to sleep and keep warm.

These queuers will be allowed to leave the queue by others, and, return without any problems or queries, just by saying, “Can you save my place please?

My first shock to the system, my first challenge to my up-bringing and my beliefs happened in the 1980’s when I worked in Saudi Arabia as the Software Manager for the Texas Instruments distributor, Saudi Computer Services. I had been sent to the capital, Riyadh, to install a new client’s computer system, a task I had done many times, flying from the Red Sea town of Jeddah into the middle of the country where Riyadh is located.

My flights had been arranged, and upon completion of the job, I went to catch my return leg back to Jeddah early, as I had completed the installation ahead of schedule. I went to book-in, only to be told that the flight had been cancelled due to a sand storm and I had been placed on “standby” for the next available flight, and that I should join the queue at the standby desk.

With some fellow standby queuers, all Western Ex-Patriates, we talked and laughed as we waited for the next available seatings.

Phillip Holt wearing thobeAn announcement was made in Arabic, and within seconds from being first in the queue, we found ourselves at the back of the queue, with hundred of shouting, arms waving men in their white thobes and keffiyeh head dress.

Then they were gone, we found ourselves back at the front of the queue, but all spare seats had been taken.

This process continued, at one time we were at the front of the queue, only to find ourselves at the back following an announcement we did not understand, and any available seats were quickly allocated to those pushing to the front of the queue. We were only saved by a kind Saudia Airlines employee taking pity upon us.

The feeling of despair, the feeling of disbelief, the feeling of not fair play, something we say in British colloquialism when people do not play by the rules is “it’s not cricket“, still stays with me today.

I am experiencing this feeling more and more in the UK as more and more visitors and immigrants descend upon the small and overcrowded islands, and especially in London.

Gone are the orderly queues on the Waterloo and City underground line, (The Drain), the two station tube line, linking Waterloo mainline train station to the City of London banking area, where city centre office workers, would each morning and evening, “wait their turn” to board the over crowded trains, often missing several trains until they reached the front of the queue.

Gone are the orderly queues at bus stops.

Gone are the “first come, first served” rules in shops, restaurants and bars, as the shop assistants and waiters are often non British and do not have any concept of British cultural rules, and serve those with the loudest voice, the highest valued bank note, or the person that catches their eye.

My blood boils when waiting for a bus, especially at London Heathrow Airport after a long flight, where workers are more often than not from ethnic minority backgrounds, especially from the Indian subcontinent, where “Wait your turn”, or “First come, first served” appears does not exist in their culture.

More often of not I have just missed a bus and thus first in the queue with my suitcase for the next one, only to find when the bus arrives I am last on the bus with no seats left.

At the luggage carrousels in airport baggage halls, I am often one of the first to arrive to claim my suitcase as I can bye-pass the often long immigration queues with my biometric passport. At the carrousel, as at all airports, there is a distinctive yellow line which states, “Stand behind the line“. I follow this rule, and stand there like a statue or a soldier on guard, only to find myself soon unable to see the conveyer belt and the suitcases gliding past, as I am pushed to the back as others do not follow the rules and do what they are told, to “Stand behind the line“.

On a recent short flight from Kuala Lumpur to Penang, I resisted the need to get on the aircraft first, because as soon as the announcement was made that the flight was ready for boarding, and that we would be boarding by seat numbers, passengers raced to the departure gate, disregarding the request that only the few backseat passengers, rows 55 – 60 go forward.

For goodness sake, the plane will not leave without us.

I waited my turn and boarded the plane to take my allocated seat 6F, a window seat I had booked the day before and printed on my ticket. When I got to row 6, my seat was taken by an Indian looking young man. I politely asked him what was his ticketed seat number which turned-out to be 6D, the aisle seat. Not to cause a fuss and ask the gentleman sitting in the middle seat, 6E, to move so we could swop seats, I smiled and said I would take the aisle seat.

The air steward hearing what was happening and to my compromise to allow the person to occupy my seat, and yes I prefer the window seat, gave me a knowing smile and nod.

We were ready for taxiing out to the runway, and the announcement was made in two languages to make sure the seats were upright, tray tables stowed away, seat belts fastened, all electronic devices switched off and phone set to flight mode.

At this point, the Indian looking guy, started making a telephone call, and continued as we were pulling onto the runway to take-off. Faces of people turned to him in disbelief, but he continued, so I shouted at him to switch it off. He did.

As we were descending into Penang the announcement was made to make sure seat belts were fastened, seat backs were upright, tray tables stowed away and electronical devices switched off. He followed non of these instructions, his tray table still pocking into his stomach.

We landed in Penang, and as soon as we touched down, not even off the runway, he was making another call, again people gave him dirty looks, but this time I stayed calm and said nothing.

As we came to a stop at the gate. He stood-up waiting to get off the aircraft. Why people do it, I will never know, because we have to wait until those nearest the exit door get off first.

As I stood up to get my hand luggage from the overhead compartments, he tried to push me out of the way. I stood my ground and shouted at him to WAIT.

He looked at me sheepishly as said “sorry sir” and sat down. Faces around me gave me a knowing smile.

Being near to the front of the plane, I was one of the first off and thus one of the first at the baggage carrousel, and I dutifully stood waiting behind the yellow line. As the luggage started to arrive more passengers arrived, and I found myself once again with people infront of me, mostly of Indian ethnicity, craning to see if their suitcase was coming.

My suitcase came before those who had pushed infront of me, and it was quite a struggle to extract the suitcase from the carrousel as I had to push and shove my way in and out of the scrummage.

Oh, and the Indian looking guy was on the opposite side of the carrousel having just arrived from disembarking from the aircraft, and his luggage still not delivered.

It is against my nature, my culture not to “Wait my turn”, or accept “First come, first served“, “Respect your elders“, “Do what you are told“, but these days when I sense I could be forced to the back of the queue, it becomes playtime for Phillip. I use my body to stop these “I must be first, I have no regard for others around me” people, from getting infront of me, often forcing them to board last, allowing others to get on or served first, I’m using Phillip’s Sausage to know their every move, and counteracting them, letting them feel the frustration I feel against them.

I love my job, and my games.

Phillip loves Chocolate Cake
Phillip loves Chocolate Cake
English Sayings

Look Before You Leap

Here in the UK we have a saying “look before you leap“, and roughly means, before you do anything, think of the outcomes or consequences of what you are about to do.

As you can see from my photograph, I sport a beard, and I have had hair on my face since my college days.
Call me lazy, I do not have to shave every morning or night, I can get up, have a shower and off I go.
But hair grows, and I like to keep my beard trimmed, so as required, I have a machine which trims beards. Easy, as long as I remember to charge the battery, no problem.
It has a guard on it which is adjustable, allowing the cutting head to be presented to the hair at a certain distance, thus each hair will be in theory of equal length. This guard can be removed allowing the cutters remove the hair at skin level.
Having just returned from a trip abroad, when it was required that I looked presentable, thus I kept my beard trimmed using my machine, I decided to have a shower and again trim my beard before I went off to a meeting.
As soon as I started trimming the hair I realised something was amiss, something was wrong, my beard was too short, to much had been taken off. The one area I had used the trimming machine on, looked like a footpath through a field of wheat.
I looked at the trimmer, and the adjustment guide number of the guard showed “1” whereas I use the setting of “4”.
How could this be? The adjustment is hard to change, it needs effort, and I knew I would never do that.
I think somewhere there is some smiling person who knew they would have a laugh at my expense, the hotel maid, I do not know.
There was no other thing to do but trim my whole beard the same length, which reminds me of the time in Saudi Arabia.
Whilst living in Saudi Arabia, I had the darkest suntan you could imagine, I was black except for a white patch which never saw the light of day, never to be seen by other human eyes, that was until I had to have a medical in London requiring me to strip off. There was an endless procession of medical staff coming to see my white patch.
It was just a couple of days before I was to return to the UK for this medical examination, and I had arisen early from my bed to go for a scuba dive, that I decide to trim my beard.
Half asleep I proceeded to trim my bread. As soon as I started I knew I had left the guard off, and the cutters had removed a pathway through my beard.
There was nothing for it but to remove the whole of my beard which had been on my face for many years.
My face was half white and half tanned. I spent my remaining days trying to get the whole of my face tanned.
I achieved an even tan, and went to England, and whilst there, I went to see my daughter Vanessa who was about 6 years old. Being abroad working, and only having one break a year, I only had the opportunity to see her once a year, plus I was divorced from her mother who put many restrictions on my seeing Vanessa.
I decided to meet her out of school, and standing next to my ex-wife, waited, a clean seven bronzed man.
Vanessa ran out of school and my heart jump with happiness and joy, as I expected her to run into my arms. But no, she ran straight to my ex-wife, who said to Vanessa, “look who is here, don’t you recognise him?“, to which Vanessa said “NO“,  and carried on telling her mother about her day, completely dismissing me.
I grew my beard back and it has stayed with me ever since.
funny gifs

Sometimes it is wise to look before you leap, before you do something, consider the consequences.
Sometimes it is best that you look at all the facts before making a decision, to take in all the information presented to you.
Use Phillips Sausage to gain the extra details.
I am getting so many telephone calls from people trying to sell me something, getting my web sites high into the Google search results, asking me to take a survey, telling me that I have a virus on my computer, telling me I have won a holiday.
We need to stop, look, consider before we make that leap, or for me check the settings on my beard trimming machine.
Culture English Sayings Thoughts Travels

A Grebe Takes a Meal

I love observing the world around me, finding the little things that people normally miss, and when I find the unusual, I need to know what is gaining on, what is the history, what makes it work, but sometimes I just like to observe and enjoy the time.

A grebe on the River Thames, Kingston Upon Thames
A grebe on the River Thames, Kingston Upon Thames
Walking recently by the River Thames I noticed the bird called the grebe swimming low in the water, and diving down for what seems an age, to resurface a long way away from where it entered.
It was the first time that I saw the result of a dive, that the grebe had caught a fish. Nature can be so cruel when you think of the poor fish that was just swimming about just a few seconds before, but life on earth is like this, a tree or plant will take nutrients from the soil, perhaps depriving another plant or tree which will then die. A lion will kill an antelope to feed to live. A bird will eat a caterpillar so we will never see a beautiful butterfly, and then perhaps the bird will be eaten by another animal.

A grebe on the River Thames, Kingston Upon Thames, eating a fish.
A grebe on the River Thames, Kingston Upon Thames, eating a fish.

It is a dog eats dog world.
Even in business, cultural or beliefs systems, in living or existing as we have seen in recent months say in Libya, it is the same, it is dog eat dog or the survival of the fittest.
Life can be Poo Poo seen from one perspective, or beautiful and productive if seen from another.
Culture Eating Out English Sayings

I don’t believe it – continued

It must be my age. I’m 95, and I am using the phrase “I don’t believe it” more and more.

As I go through my fantastically rich life, visiting so many countries, experiencing so many cultures, beliefs and foods, that little voice in my head is often heard to shout “I don’t believe it“, how could they drive like that on the wrong side of the road? (I am British, and we drive on the correct side). How can they believe this or that to be true, and how could they eat that stuff? (See my blog Horseshoe Crab).
I was brought-up in a British society, with its’ beliefs and customs, and they are deep seated, down in my unconscious, directing me through my daily tour of life. These customs and beliefs become our standards which we live by, the rules which we use which say what is right and wrong, and they are so deep in my psyche, that after arriving back in London’s Heathrow Airport from a trip abroad, and I stand at the bus stop to catch the X26 bus back home, non native British people arrive after me and stand at the front of the queue, getting on the bus before me.
Have these people no sense of what a queue is for?
First to arrive has the right to be first on the bus.
Why don’t they form an orderly queue?
Where are their manners?
I just don’t believe these people. They have no remorse. They don’t say sorry or excuse me. They are in their own little cocooned world where everything is for the taking, for them and only them.
I am driving in a foreign country, and I see someone wanting to cross the road, so I slow down and indicate them to cross, and do I get a thank you? No.
Where are their manners?
Other drivers do anything they can to get that one car infront. They push they shove, they cut others up, they sit up the exhaust pipe trying to push the other person or intimidate them.
Where is their sense of community?
Eating abroad brings its’ problems for me. Certain food tastes are so abhorrent (horrible) to me they make me physically ill. Seeing a whole fish with its’ white eyes staring at me and its’ mouth wide open turns my stomach.
Whole fish looking at me in a Malaysian restaurant
Whole fish looking at me in a Malaysian restaurant (top right)
How can people eat such food? And, rice with everything, where’s my potatoes?
The older I get, the more entrenched I get my old beliefs, and that little voice in my head says, “I don’t believe it“.
There is a fantastic British comedy series shown on the BBC called One Foot in the Grave, which ran between 1990 and 2000.
The series looks at the life and exploits of Victor Meldrew (Richard Wilson) as he faces life after an early retirement and he tries to battle against modern life.
Victor tries to keep himself busy but he is beset with misfortunes and misunderstandings, his next-door neighbour is always finding him in compromising situations leading him to think that Victor is insane. Victor’s wife, Margret (Annette Crosbie) is the long suffering part of the partnership, never giving up on Victor.
Victor’s catch phrase in the series is “I don’t believe it“, and as I mature with every year and encounter new situations, I am getting more like Victor Meldrew day by day.
I just don’t believe how I can be so stupid, must be my age.
Watch a small video of One Foot in the Grave (click)
Other English sayings.
English Sayings Thoughts

Windows of opportunity the key to succeed

One door closes another door opens article can give us the principal that an opportunity may become closed or unavailable to us, but more often or not, if we allow or we stay aware, new opportunities will show themselves. See Being Aware, Awakening.

It is the onus of ourselves to take advantage of these chances or opportunities, as there could be a limited time period of time, or a Window of Opportunity. Miss this window of opportunity, and it may be gone forever.

Often we may find that a window or door of opportunity has been offered us, but when we go to enter we find that the door has been closed on us again, but we have been offered a set of keys.

Which key is the one to open the opportunity? That is the question.

I have worked with many people who have had problems, and they continue to live with those problems, they fail to leave those problems behind they, to look for other ways to solve their ways of doing things, living their lives. They fail to leave, and close the door and windows, and lock them afterwards.

Then there are those that leave the one door that has been closed behind them, see that new door or window of opportunity, only to be presented with a set of keys to unlock them.

They try the first key, but that fails to unlock the door or window. They try the second and that fails, The third and fourth, and so on, each failing.
Just like Pavlov and his conditioning of dogs, by ringing a bell each time they were fed, the dogs would link food and the ringing of a bell resulting in salivation, and when just the bell was rung, the dogs would salivate, so is the same with the trying of the keys failing to open the door or window of opportunity, people often give up.

Even though they have only tried one or two keys and have failed and there are many more keys left to try, they are conditioned to failure and give up trying.

Perhaps we give up to this conditioning too early, the next key could have opened the treasure chest.

Perhaps we failed to notice that the keys we tried were too small or too big for the keyhole, we failed to sort the keys into the most likely ones that would lead to success.

We should be more aware of our actions and choices to take advantage of opportunities, take action, and keep trying. As Charles C. Manz said, “Most failures are not really failures – they are simply challenges in progress“.

But we should also be aware that we are being “sold a pup”, being “led up the garden path” by the person offering the keys, the fact is that perhaps there is not a key to open the door or window.

Shops, businesses often advertise special offers, keys, to get shoppers into their store, but when we get there, the offer has already gone, has many conditions attached to it, or the product or service is poor quality. Low cost airlines advertise very cheap flights, but fail to tell prospective travelers that there are limited seats available, or that there will be a booking fee, a baggage charge, extra taxi fares to pay because of the distances to travel from far away airports  etc, which when added-up will cost more than a scheduled airline.

Sometimes we are drawn into doing something when there is nothing for us in the beginning.

English Sayings Thoughts

As one door closes another opens, Woolworths and usefulshopp

There is an English saying that says, “as one door closes another opens“.

In the town center or market square in Kingston upon Thames there are many shops, some small and some large.

One of these shops is Borders, and as in the articles Relationships change – Borders and Yes it is true, they are lost to me, I wrote that the company is closing much to my displeasure.

Borders bookshop Kingston upon Thames to close

Only one year ago the shop next door to Borders, a very old established shopping chain, (99 years), once found in many British high streets, called Woolworths also failed and went out of business, and for a year the large shop in Kingston stayed empty.

Today an established Swedish outlet opened a new shop in the old Woolworth’s premises. Clas Ohlson’s hardware shop is called usefulshopp. The new Clas Ohlson stores sell useful items, from electrical and multi-media products, hard-to-find kitchen and bathroom accessories, to tools and gardening equipment, or to me gadgets, my wonderland.

Clas Ohlson usefulshopp, Kingston upon Thames

I spent a happy few hours wondering around the shop eyeing many products I am sure in the near future will find their way back to my home.

So as Border’s doors must surely soon close, I wonder who, what or when will the company be to take over the premises, and if what they sell will be attractive to me as te open their doors.

Border’s shop, with its’ historic 300 year old stairs, has occupied the premises for only a few years, yet they have found a place in my heart, but like most things in our life, nothing lasts forever, and something else will take its place. Every week it seems a shop closes in the every town, sometimes a new shop takes up residence, and sometimes the old retailer reopens its’ doors revamped and better, renewing perhaps a stronger relationship in the partnership of retailer and shopper.

English Sayings Thoughts

Once bitten, twice shy

In English we have a saying or idiom, once bitten twice shy, which means that if someone is hurt or something has gone wrong, the next time the same or similar thing occurs we would be more careful.
Malcolm Gladwell, a writer of four good books, Blink, The Tipping Point, What the Dog Saw, and Outliners, refers to the subconscious, the automatic running of once bitten, twice shy, referring to a fire chief, who had sent his crew into a major fire which appeared to be in a room on a certain floor level. The fire chief then ordered his men to quickly leave the building, to stop fighting the fire. Shortly after exiting the building, the floor where the fire crew had been standing collapsed. The seat of the fire had been on the floor below.

How did the fire chief know to order his men to evacuate?

It was because of all the accumulated learnings, knowledge, of fighting other fires, the little signs, which at a conscious level were not noticeable, told his subconscious or intuition, that disaster was about to happen.

Another great person I ave had the great privilege to learn from is Dr Win Wenger and Project Renaissance.

In his work Win wenger teaches us to be aware of our Side Bands. To become aware of our own internal feelings, thoughts, ideas, by noticing the little signals that we give off, maybe a quick glance, a quick intake of breath, an indication of a hand movement, to stop and ask,

what happened there, what did we notice, why did we do what we did?

It is becoming aware of these signals, that we will become more aware of our own intuition, and we will see more, feel more, hear more, as we do with Phillip’s Sausage.

It was wonderful to get feedback from the participants of the Society of NLP Master Practitioner course I am running here in Bahrain. After returning from doing the Side Band exercise, they had had different experiences, each noticing more, bird songs, items in the hotel entrance that they had used many many times.

Notice your side bands, it could help in controlling your state, being aware of others states. Use your side bands in meetings, negotiations, work and especially relationships. I must use them myself more often. (see previous entry.)

But I still love my work.

Other English sayings.
English Sayings Thoughts Travels

The Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 Sparviero

I wrote about the gentleman I talked to in Italy about his experience in the Second World War flying in the Italian Air Force, and I felt that part of my history was missing.

We talked about how he downed two Hurricane aircraft into the sea, and escaped to fight another day. (click to read article).

He talked about The Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 Sparviero (SM.79) and I searched for more details on the aircraft, hoping that perhaps there may be one in one of the many aircraft museums in the UK, visiting the Imperial War Museum in London and Duxford and RAF Hendon, but nothing.

The Italian Airforce Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 Sparviero
The Italian Airforce Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 Sparviero

I then decided that perhaps there maybe a plastic model construction kit I could find, and by building it I would learn more about the aircraft. That was nearly as difficult as finding a real aircraft. But after a lot of searching I found a model shop near to RAF Hendon, North London, with one last kit. The shop Hannants is on a small industrial estate, not really a shop as it does not even have a shop window, but it does have a good range of kits.

From building this aircraft, the SM.79, I felt so much nearer to the history I was told, but no-where in the books I read was there any mention of two Hurricane aircraft being lost to a SM.79. I even asked at RAF Hendon, something I will follow-up in coming months.

It is strange how we are only told we need to know about our history, and this tends to be one sided, that from the viewpoint of the country we are being taught in. Seeing the foot over the British Isle on the world globe on the statute in the Vatican, (click to see here). The history of slavery in America (click to see here).

I am learning to take what I am told with a pinch of salt, an English saying, which means, we are not being told the truth, or only a little of what we need to know.

The three engined Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 Sparviero, or Sparrowhawk, was designed before the start of the Second World War as a passenger transport and fast postal link airplane, but was modified to become a torpedo and medium bomber with great success. It had a hump behind the cockpit which was able to retract to reveal a two 12.7 mm guns. It was flown by many countries.

English Sayings Thoughts

I can blow my own trumpet

There is an English saying “they are blowing their own trumpet“.

This saying means that they are boasting or talking about their own abilities, talents, successes and achievements.

So yes I can blow my own trumpet.

I have proof, read the blog, visit my web sites.

Whilst clearing out a storage facility I have been renting to house my old memories, books, toys and more, I came across a very old newspaper cutting dated, October 1963.

In my youth I belonged to a brass band, and was a member of The Boys Brigade, an organisation similar to the Scouts, but we could wear long trousers.
My ability to play a brass instrument and especially a trumpet, my own trumpet, meant that on parades, matching through the streets to go to church or chapel, I would be part of the marching band. Our services were always used on Remembrance Sunday, when in the UK and other countries we would march to the War Memorial to remember the fallen. Always a moving experience as we played The Last Post.

Phillip Holt with arrow pointing on parade with the Boys' Brigade
Phillip Holt with arrow pointing on parade with the Boys’ Brigade, hold his trumpet. 1963

The newspaper article says:-


Character building is the main object of the Boys’ Brigade. This way the theme of a sermon by Cannock Chase Methodist Circuit Superintendent, the Rev. S. C. Challener on Sunday.

He was preaching to three companies who had taken part in a Founders’ Day parade from High Green, Cannock, to Mill Street Methodist Church, Cannock.

The parade, which was headed by the chairman of Cannock Urban Council, Councillor I. J. Jacques and Captain T. Howard of the 1st Chasetown Boys’ Brigade was followed by the 1st Cannock, Chasetown and Lichfield companies.

Altogether 120 youths paid tribute to Sir William A. Smith, who founded th Boys’ Brigade 80 years ago.

On the return march to High Green a salute was taken by Councillor Jacques at Cannock Bandstand.

Books English Sayings Thoughts

White Gold – History missing from my History

As I have been writing about over the few days, I have been learning so much about what I did not know. Part of history was missing, and Missing information, Bronze Age. How my understanding has been wrong in the article Interpretation gone wrong, how I got information that I understood one way, but was to mean something different to the person giving me the information.

Over a year ago, I saw a snippet of information on a news program which said that people from towns of the south coast of England had been abducted whilst attending church, and were forced into slavery by Moroccan sultans.

Oh yes“, I thought. Pull the other one, it has bells on. I had never heard of that story before, perhaps it was information to promote another film like the Pirates of the Caribbean or in the next sequel to Indiana Jones series, ‘Indiana Jones and the Jewelled Zimmer Frame‘.

I was whilst working in Bahrain I was introduced by Phil Edwards, to a book by Giles Milton, and called White Gold, which told the story of white slavery, giving more information on the abductions I was so uniformed about.

White Gold tells the story of one young Ccornish boy in particular, Thomas Pellow, who was enslaved for twenty-three years, and how other Christian Europeans were taken into slavery by Islamic slave traders in the great slave markets of Morocco, in the towns of Salé, Fez, Meknes, Marrakesh, to name but a few.

It tells of the tyrannical sultans, especially Sultan Moulay Ismail, who ruled Morocco with a heavy hand, himself and his black guards killing by the most horrid methods, torturing at a whim the white slaves. Sultan Moulay wanted the best and the biggest, bigger and better than the Palace of Versailles,of King Louis XIV.  Sultan Moulay wanted the biggest, the best palaces, forts, gardens, armies, riches, and he could only obtain and build these riches with labour, mass human armies of white slave labour.

Labour was hard to come by, but the Barbary corsairs who were also known as the “Turkish Corsairs“, “Ottoman Corsairs“, or pirates, based in North Africa, in towns such as Tunis, Tripoli, Algiers and Salé, soon learned that they could make more money in the slave markets from selling humans than they could from the ships and cargo they captured, such as silks, spices etc.

They would raid ships in the Atlantic and in the Mediterranean, especially the Straits of Gibraltar, and no Governments could stop them. Whole crews would be enslaved, from the captain down to the galley boy.

Not only would they capture ships, but as mentioned above, they would raid towns around the Mediterranean, in countries such as Italy, Spain, up into the Atlantic, Portugal, France, Holland, England and Ireland as far as IcelandRussia. They would take to whole community. Even North American merchant ships were also targeted.

From the early 1600’s until the early 1800’s, it is thought that between 1 million to 1.25 million Europeans were enslaved. Once caught, they would never be released unless ransom money would be paid, and that was not often, or they died in the underground holding pens, not seeing the light of day for years, living with vermin, disease on little or no food. 

Men would be put to building work, labouring, or being part of the European renegade army the Sultans kept. Women were put into the harems. The slaves were sold throughout the Islamic world as far away as Aden, Alexandria, Cairo, Istanbul and the Ottoman Empire.

Another aim of the sultans on the Barbary Coast against the European Christian slaves was to convert them to Islam or get them to Turn Turk. Many were tortured into Turning Turk, and those that turned or became apostatized, were disowned by their families, friends and the establishment back in their home country, and any remote chance of rescue would be lost.

Many treaties were signed, but were never honoured for long, if at all, and it was rare if any slaves would be repatriated. The might of the European navies could not match those of the corsairs, these often would be under the command of white European Christian’s, who became very rich and established themselves in lavish surroundings.

Also taken into slavery by the Sultans would be black African guards, who were taken at an early age to be trained and become fiercely loyal to the Sultans and the regime, to be the absolute masters of the white European slaves.

None of this important history was taught at school, even if I knew of the Kings and Queens of British history, James I, James II, George I, and Queen Anne, but not one mention of the white slaves of North Africa.

We were again taught what was told to be taught. I had learned that the British had enslaved millions of black Africans for the American British Colonies and West Indies, how wrong it was, but nothing about how white Europeans were enslaved many years before.

We only know what we know, and yet we think we know it all.

OK, so what else is missing from my knowledge. More to follow.

An interesting book which has enlighten my knowledge, well worth a read.