Thank You

24 Jan

Thank you all so much for your very warm welcome. I’ve been distracted by that dirty word ‘work,’ but am now going through albums stretching back (almost) to the dawn of time, as, curiously, some of my relatives and family friends met Errol Flynn (lucky blighters), so I have some a few stories about the incomparable Errol which I hope will make a minor contribution to this wonderful and much-needed blog. Ride to the sound of the guns! Which reminds me that in ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’, the Union Jack was flown upside down. As Tennyson said; ‘someone had bungled.’ I also wonder why the charge itself was set in India, when it took place in the Crimea, against the Russians.

The Earl of Cardigan, who led the charge in real life, was a Flynn sort of fellow. He was known as the ‘Mad Earl’ and was the most prolific swordsman (in both sense of the words) of his generation. He was involved in numerous scandals that made front page news, was accused of debauching young women, drank two bottles of port with breakfast and didn’t give a damn what anyone thought about him. When he was asked, during an official government enquiry, how long the charge lasted, his answer was so precise that he was then asked how he could have timed it so exactly. Cardigan replied: ‘I was smoking a cigar at the start of it, and it was only three quarters smoked by the end.’

The Mad Earl in as much gold braid as Errol wore in They Died With Thier Boots On

The Mad Earl, in as much gold braid as Errol wore in ‘They Died With Their Boots On.’


— PW


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  1. Gentleman Tim

    January 25, 2017 at 6:52 am

    Charge is a “Hollywood True Story”, Petronella – right up there with Objective Burma! Sure, it gets India confused with Crimea, and Russia with the East India Company, but it was great fun for all, unless you were a horse, of course.

    Also, you must admit that there’s been no finer Hollywood movie made, before or since, about the nation of Suristan.

    Additionally, it compels recording that the real crime in Crimea (or was it India?) was that Livvie chose Patric over Flynn! What in the Eastern World was she thinking or drinking??

    Finally, mad or not, we all owe a great debt of gratitude to the Errol of Cardigan for his splendid sweater:


    • PW

      January 25, 2017 at 4:45 pm

      I could not agree more. The crime of Livvie chosing Patric ranks as a crime against humanity. And yes, it was a marvellous film – particularly the charge itself. The spirit of Cardigan seemed to enter Errol. Cardigan had a failed marriage to a divorcee, two court appearances for adultery, two court martials, a state of trial for intent to murder, dismissal from the command of a crack cavalry regiment, black balled 46 times from a leading military club, and either cheered or hissed at when he went out in public. But he was intelligent and cared deeply about his men. He was actually against the charge. The best book on why it happened (the theory being that the order given was misunderstood) is ‘The Reason Why’ by Cecil Woodham Smith, while historian Saul David wrote a really entertaining biography of Cardigan, which rebuts the received wisdom that he was a callous upper class twit. Returning to Errol, as all roads here lead to him, I always thought he belonged in another century, with his courtliness, wit and bravado and his love of music and literature. I cannot decide though, which century it should have been. Perhaps when the Burgundian court and the Age of Chivalry were in full flower. What would I give to have a man like Flynn play the lute under my window!

      • Gentleman Tim

        January 25, 2017 at 11:24 pm

        Even Iron Maidens couldn’t stop Errol or The Earl, PW:

      • Sergio

        January 25, 2017 at 11:51 pm

        PW – A Lute player you say? Look no further than Patric himself. He not only stole Livvie, maybe he can steal you also? After all he does experience in lute playing..……

      • Gentleman Tim

        January 26, 2017 at 3:14 am

        Looks to me that Sir Errol of Naughtyham may have come courtin’ for you with his lute in a previous life, Lady P:…

  2. shangheinz

    January 25, 2017 at 12:13 pm


    You are very welcome, Wyatt Earl! I am looking forward to charging at your anecdotes the whole nine yards/for an entire cigar lenght! Did you know that the 7th Earl of Cardigan died of a natural cause? The seventy year old fell of his horse! Here is a more accurate movie version starring Flynn friend Trevor Howard:…

    • rswilltell

      January 25, 2017 at 1:45 pm

      In reading about the infamous, glorious ‘Charge Of The Light Brigade’ two conclusions come to mind about Lord Cardigan. He was foolish, ignorant but at the same time very brave and courageous. Ralph Schiller

      • shangheinz

        January 27, 2017 at 1:40 pm


        And most of all one lucky diehard, Rushstreet Ralph. There is a fine book I read while in GB last summer about the military blunders of the British Army through the ages. The Charge was a misunderstanding in the first place. Captain Louis Nolan who out of frustration or self- destruction miscommunicated the order given to him by army commander Lord Reglan. Had they shot the messenger they would have spared the lives of 200 men and 300 horses. Still the Light Brigade overran the guns of the Cossacks, and that without any infantry, mind you… Backup should have been provided by Cardigan`s brother-in-law lieutenant General Bingham, 3rd Earl of Lucan. That didn`t happen, because the two Earls weren`t on good speaking terms at that time! Once in the enemy camp the LB galloped on only to find themselves at a dead end canyon and had to do the charge all the way home all over again! The Brits would go and call it a briliant blunder. Cardigan is said to have a attended a dinner party at his yacht on the same night.

        • PW

          January 27, 2017 at 5:54 pm

          I think you are being slightly unfair to us Brits. The order was misheard. It was shouted over a distance. And Cardigan, according to biographer, Saul David, was deeply distressed by the loss of so many brave men.

          • shangheinz

            January 27, 2017 at 8:58 pm

            On the contrary I am very fond of everything British, especially Scotland and Ireland…I’m only charging of course PW!
            The original order was to retrive the guns that had been captured by the Russians before. A feasible task as well as a military statement: we won’t allow to get away with this affront. Nolan indicated the direction where the looted cannons were kept with a wide swiping gesture. Now it was his responsibility to communicate Lord R’s order crystal clear. Why he didn’t is now the case of controversy. Anyways, he payed his possible daredevilishness dearly and was amongst the first casualities, hit in the chest by a shrepnal. At this point the guns in questionmark were those they were directly staring at. To take them would without a doubt lead to death and disaster, yet the Light Brigade rode on. Cardigan was devastated, but put on a show afterwards. I wonder how his relationship with the hated brother-in- law progressed. Is that described in the biography too?

          • Gentleman Tim

            January 28, 2017 at 4:56 am

            Until relatively recently, PW, there have been some hard feelings over Mad King George taxing our tea and then burning Jim and Dolly’s White House. But that’s all water under the under the proverbial bridge now since our joining the Brexit Club. We’ll soon get to our apologies regarding The Charge, but first we have to figure out how to fly the Union Jack right-side up. That could take some serious time. You Brits are very tricky sometimes.


            • PW

              January 28, 2017 at 6:51 pm

              Funnily enough, a lot of us over here were very anxious to get rid of you pesky colonials! These included statesmen such as Pitt the Elder (The Earl of Chatham), Edmund Burke, and John Wilkes, who is a particular hero of mine. It is misfortunate that Lincoln’s assassin was named after him!
              I know you are only teasing me, as I am certain that you are aware that poor King George was not mad at all, but suffered from porphyria.

              • Gentleman Tim

                January 29, 2017 at 12:40 am

                He suffered from fear of the poor, PW? Horrible. Even worse, he had to suffer Thomas Paine. Good God, the Lord works in delirious ways.

                And blue urine to go with his blue blood! … Talk about having the blues.



                P.S., P.W. Good to see Queen Charlotte always her Union Jack umbrella right-side up!

                Praising John Wilkes (Booth’s distant cousin)!? You speak treason, PW! (Did he end up dying of the gallows or the pox??)

                • PW

                  January 29, 2017 at 4:16 pm

                  You really know your stuff. In fact, you are quite formidable. John Wilkes was not a traitor. He annoyed the Bute ministry with his newspaper,The North Briton, the first paper to report the proceedings of Parliament. He also co-wrote The Essay on Woman, allegedly the most indecent poem in the English language. His political enemies tried to have him imprisoned for libel and obscenity, but he was released (though he was imprisoned later) as his arrest was declared illegal because it was done with a General Warrant. Wilkes established some very important freedoms, including the abolition of General Warrants, the freedom of the press, and the right to take your seat in Parliament if you have been democratically elected. His womanizing would have exhausted even Errol. He once pinched a girl from Casanova, who was furious, as Wilkes was notoriously ugly. But he was very witty, as you know, and said: ‘Give me half an hour to talk away my face and I can seduce any woman ahead of the handsomest man in England.’ Then there was his involvement with the Monks of Medmenham, which became popularly known as he Hell Fire Club. Will do a post on this because Errol would have loved it! I have attended parties in the so called Hell Fire Caves. Alas, they were very proper.

                • PW

                  January 29, 2017 at 6:15 pm

                  Incidentally, Wilkes died in his bed of natural causes (a muscular wasting disease), aged 72. His beloved daughter Polly, who never married, was by his side. He is buried in the Grosvenor Chapel, South Audley Street, Mayfair. The memorial slab says ‘John Wilkes – A Friend to Liberty.’

          • PW

            January 28, 2017 at 6:41 pm

            Nolan was a very hotheaded office. He had a history or recklessness, for which he paid for with his life. Of course he failed in his duty in the most appalling way. If you haven’t already, do read ‘The Reason Why’ and Saul David’s book on Cardigan, which is called ‘The Homicidal Earl’, is very illuminating on his relationship with his detested brother-in-law. The book is available on…. It’s beautifully written and one of the best biographies I have every read. I speak as someone who hoovers up historical biographies! Also, I strongly recommend ‘A History of the British Cavalry’, by Henry Anglesey, whose ancestor lost his leg at Waterloo and was the first man to wear a prosthetic limb with joints.

  3. twinarchers

    January 25, 2017 at 11:09 pm

    Great post and welcome to the group.