Episode 48 - An Englishman, an Irishman and a Frenchman Walk Into a Pub (Wars Week)

Updated: Apr 17

Tom's notes:


Listeners’ messages. I, on behalf of everyone who listens to this, I would like to ask Trinavan Hawkins to send us a video of her singing Viagra in the Water for uploading to Facebook. That’s a very millennial thing to do isn’t? Appoint yourself representative of a large group of people, like on Facebook, I’d like to personally apologies on behalf of all British People for voting Leave, or for appointing Boris Johnson, or for the music of Elton John, or for having separate hot and cold taps; fuck of you self-important twat, I never elected you.

Top Bloke Chris from New South Wales, who correctly worked out where the phrase who punched Humphrey came from.

Bjorn’s messages cracked me up. Our German accents sound like a gay Kermit. If anyone else has an surprisingly accurate description of our bad accents, please message us. Bjorn also gets annoyed by me saying ‘there you have it Sam’. Which I don’t find as annoying as the frequency with which I say ‘absolutely’. So there you have it sam…

Almost Wars

· This is a reasonably tricky topic because to discover something not very well known, you’d need to do some serious research. We don’t do serious research; largely due to time constraints and lack of access to a decent library although that is due to change soon!

· Nonetheless, I’ve found a suitably silly example.

I’m going to talk about a war that almost broke out on 11Th November 1981 between two European super-powers.

· The 11th of the 11th I hear you holler?! A day of peace!

So on this day in 1981 a rogue Danish Ambassador, Mogens Wandel-Petersen, led a force of 5000 individuals, many of whom were dressed in full Viking war attire, into the Huescar Municipality in the Province of Granada, in Spain.

· When word of this approaching Danish war-band reached the town of Huescar, all 10176 inhabitants of the town were told not to go to work, but to prepare the town for the Danes.

o Mayor Jose Pablo Serrano led the preparations

o Large banners were put up outside the town declaring that the Danes were entering enemy territory.

o Free wine was made available to the people of Huescar to calm their nerves and help them become battle ready.

· Not really a fair fight right?

o Huescar in 2018 had a population of less than 8000 and an area of 468 square kilometres.

o Here’s a question for you; how big is Denmark?

§ Denmark has an area of 2,210,579 km2 and a population of 5.8 million

§ It’s the 12th largest country in the world due to Greenland being an autonomous territory of Denmark.

· That makes it 4 times larger than Spain, and a ridiculous amount larger than Huescar.

· Other 11?

1. Russia

2. Canada

3. China

4. US

5. Brazil

6. Australia

7. India

8. Argentina

9. Kazakhstan

10. Algeria

11. Democratic Republic of Congo

Hold on, there is something missing here, let me rewind both 10 minutes, and 172 years.

172 years takes us back to the Peninsular War where Napoleon’s First French Empire waged war on Bourbon Spain (this was part of the wider Napoleonic Wars).

· The Peninsular War ran from 1807 to 1814.

· In a nutshell, Spain and France were allied. They invaded Portugal, France then turned on Spain (the old one-two, kick ‘em in the balls when they’re not looking).

· The Spanish government fell apart into quarrelling region government.

· The dominant French were however effectively hassled and never allowed to become settled as a result of guerrilla warfare tactics. In fact, the term guerrilla war comes from this period.

· The British were allied with Portugal and Spain and managed to ensure that Portugal remained out of dirty, baguette bothering, onion ogling, pate prodding French hands.

· From Portugal, the British managed to hassle the French also under the leadership of Sir Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, or should I say (ser arthoehr wellesley first duke o' wellengtahn) because he was actually born in Dublin.

· After Napoleon’s ‘decision stupid’ to invade Russia, the British, Portuguese and Spanish retook the Iberian Peninsula and chased the retreating Frenchies across the Pyrenees, something the French did very effectively, strangely…

· Denmark was very much involved in this war. Whilst Spain was allied to France, the Spanish had actually had troops in Denmark, called the Division of the North, protecting this region of Napoleon’s Empire.

o The British fought the Danish during the Napoleonic Wars

· At the outbreak of the Peninsular War, Denmark became an enemy of Spain. Against this backdrop, the Huescar town council declared war on Denmark.

Fast forward to the early 1980s

· Vincente Gonzalez Barberan, a Spanish chap, discovered the declaration of war.

· Technically the Spanish and Danish had been at war for 172 years and no peace had been agreed.

Let me now return to my 5000 invading Danes in 1981.

· These Danes were actually all tourists dressed as Vikings for a joke

· The inhabitants of Huescar were actually given a holiday and the wine was to celebrate the tongue and cheek signing of a peace treaty between this tiny area of Granada and the mighty, clog wearing, herring gobbling, beach nuding Danes.


Sam's Episode Notes: The Battle of Fishguard and the last time the French tried to invade Britain. It didn't go well.


And now, for a specially requested listener Q&A...

Favourite genocides?

The guy that suggested this is undoubtedly one of those people who likes dead baby jokes.

Let’s do this as a separate topic

1763 Siege of Fort Pitt, part of Pontiacs Wars where a confederacy of Native American Tribes attempted to drive out the British. I’m no expert in this but my understanding is that the impact of European colonisation of the Americas, and its subsequent implications for the native population of the Americas, is categorised by some as genocide. Certainly I don’t think it can be argued that native populations did particularly well in most areas of the British Empire. Anyway, at Fort Pitt the British gave gifts to native American Emissaries that had been taken from a smallpox infirmary. Obviously with the intention of sneakily spreading smallpox amongst the troublesome natives.

Favourite 90s television show

Fast Show

· 94 to 97

· Fast and silly sketch show

· Mark Williams; Arthur Weasley in the Harry Potter films

· Lots of catch phrases

o Scorchio

o Suits You Sir

o Black!

o Making love to a beautiful women

o Jumpers for goal posts

o Hardest game in the world

o Jazz club, nice.

o Two of the many writers for this were the same writers as Father Ted

Shooting Stars

Father Ted

Favourite Sam story

Episode 9; Two False Legs and a Ruined Bakery

Episode 30; Attach of the burping lecherous bum otters

When love for history was sparked

I originally read this message and thought it said when your love for each other was sparked. I’ve always loved history and originally it was just because things were interesting and elicited an ooo or aaa response. I really enjoyed mythology and storytelling as a kid too. Then at university I read the preface to a book about Anglo Saxon England if I remember rightly and the author wrote a beautiful sentence that summed it up brilliantly; it was something like “we learn through our experiences, and history supplements our experiences with those of millions of other people’s experiences”. Which is why history is a humanities subject, it studies humans, it studies us, to know history improves your knowledge of yourself. And I’m incredibly self-involved and narcissistic. Which is nice.

Favourite topic or era

I’m not so bothered by East Asian history; i0t just doesn’t resonate with me as much as European history. I do really like the late medieval period of exploration, prior to mass colonisation.

Favourite Tom story

Albigensian Crusade and the origins of the word bugger was fascinating, episode 19 (Third Arm and Hammer)

Why does Britain have two taps?

One for yes, two for no right.

I never knew this was a thing.

Now I researched this and much to my delight, the answer was that traditionally in the UK your cold water directly supplied and so was safe to drink, but your hot water was kept in a cistern in the loft, so you didn’t want to drink it. And this is why I always question why my wife wets her tooth brush under the hot tap! I was told never to drink from the hot tap by a grandmum.

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