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Diachronic Ethnodeficiency On:2005-02-11 05:30:09

Always supposing that the world hasn't ended, or found itself embroiled in WWIII, and that neither of us is dead, or in gaol, or terminally ill (with, one hopes, a non-distressing and disgust-free disease), then the chances are quite good that when (and indeed if) you hear this I will be luxuriating in that fount of all things...
that home of the ... and the...
... .
Well maybe that explains everything, and gives you the whole and complete gist of this essay in one praecisio-enriched lacuna (Ok, in several bunched lacunæ)! You see I'll be at home in England when you hear this, and so this seems a good time to revisit the universally distressing subject of Ethnodeficiency--well at least it's distressing to the English, which ought to amount to the same thing.

As I'm sure you know only too well (and if you don't then: As I've rehearsed here at great length, but you missed it and I hope you've learned your lesson and will now listen every single week), Ethnodeficiency is a terrible affliction, and, worse, one that only afflicts the English: it is the affliction of having no discernible ethnicity, of having, in fact, no noticeable national characteristics at all.

Consider that in America, now-a-days you can enjoy (or not, your enjoyment's entirely up to you and may of course vary) St. Patricks' Days and Highland Games and Oktoberfests and Chinese New Years---and further, that nowhere can you similarly enjoy (or not) any obviously English events. This sad state is what we might call Synchronic Ethnodeficiency. But it is not just today that England and Englishness are ignored and denied and rejected: No! No this blight has endured for centuries in that even more insidious and long-lasting process of DIACHRONIC Ethnodeficiency. DCED as it's more commonly known in professional circles is the absolute bane of historians of these here United States and is found absolutely everywhere: from the absurd notion that you (rather than, say, the English) won the War of 1812; through that weird article of mere faith that the little kerfuffel in 1776 was other than the first American civil war; right back to that early exercise in onomastic misattribution---of the continent to the extremely improbable and non-English Amerigo Vespucci rather than to the much more probable and much, much more English Richard Amerike---though, come to think of it, in that case it could be that the deciding factor was that although Amerike had a funny name, it was not quite funny enough!

And considering funny names, but not quite funny enough, look at Bartholomew Gosnold! Now there's a name to conjure with, or at least to almost conjure with! And of course, since he's not only an Englishman, but also an East Anglian from Suffolk just like me, I'll let you guess who it is that historians consider to be the most important of the founders of this country to be almost completely unknown, which one gets the double DCED whammy. As the one lone news organization that tends not to evidence too much DCED (the British Broadcasting Company---though come to think of it even they have their moments) put it, in one of the very few articles about him on the 400th anniversary of his first voyage in 1602, "Historians believe that Bartholomew Gosnold is the overlooked founding father of America." Eighteen years before the pilgrim fathers he was responsible for naming Cape Cod, and for Martha's Vineyard (which by what I'm sure you'll think a strange co-incidence has the same name as his daughter---her mother being one of the Barsham City Vinyards). On his return in 1609 he established the first permanent English settlement in North America. Now since some historians believe the US would have become Spanish territory if it had not been for Gosnold you can easily see the terrifying power of diachronic ethnodeficiency when you cast your mind back and try to remember just how familiar Bartholomew Gosnold was to you at the beginning of this essay.

Cheerio for now
Richard Howland-Bolton

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