Monday, 25 January 2010

This’ll Please Rod Liddle…

She was the forgotten heroine of the Crimean War, a black nurse from Jamaica who tended the wounds of injured and dying soldiers and whose reputation at the time rivalled that of Florence Nightingale.

But while Britain's collective memory of the "Lady the lamp" has endured for more than 150 years, Mary Seacole was only a historical footnote. Her real status was revealed only after her story was included in the national curriculum and taught to primary-school children to give them a better understanding of racial attitudes and the contributions made by ethnic minority women to British society.
So now the kiddiewinks have been suitably re-educated, what’s next?
In 2005 – the same year that she was voted the greatest black Briton – a campaign was launched to ensure her place in history was secure by erecting a permanent memorial to her in the grounds of Guy's and St Thomas' Hospital in London, on the south bank of the Thames.

Now, five years down the line, the Mary Seacole Memorial Statue Appeal is still struggling for money. The fundraising total is £50,000, a long way short of the estimated £400,000 it will cost to complete the project.
Oh, dear.
Organisers have so far relied on small donations from individuals and schools, but are now looking at ways of raising much larger sums.
Luckily, they are going down the concert route rather than holding out their hands for taxpayer’s money.

But it does beg the question, just how much of an icon can she be, if people won’t stump up the money for this..?

Funniest bit of this story? The Greater Smirking Tit eagerly jumped on this as an example of 'Indy' journalists sending coded messages to welcome their new (possible) overlord.

Quite why even left-wing journalists would be so dim as to suppose pinning a 'Kick Me (Out of My Job)' sign on their own backs was a good idea in the event Liddle does get the job is a mystery...


Anonymous said...

Well I must admit I had heard of her years ago but then I learnt abour her from a book. Likewise Alexis Soyer a man who made a truly great contribution to the welfare of our forces in the Crimea. I think Florence had a much better PR team and whilst reminding us of their contribution is a luadable affair, I feel that using it for the political purposes of others somehow reduces her achievement.
Michael :)

DJ said...

That's the thing anonymous. Old Flo did have a better PR team and so she was able to catapult nursing from the last resort of slovenly hags to something approaching a profession. That's why she's significant.

It's like arguing that some black dude in 1934 designed in aircraft that was even better than the Spitfire. Maybe so, but history isn't the study of 'might have'.

Blognor Regis said...

Nursing pah. The Crimean war left no far more important legacies. Street names, Inkerman Terrace, Sebastapol Road; and clothing, balaclavas, Raglan sleeves and Cardigans. Everything else pales.

JuliaM said...

"I think Florence had a much better PR team..."

Ah, but as DJ points out, that actually matters.

"...history isn't the study of 'might have'."


"The Crimean war left no far more important legacies."

You wouldn't think so from the school textbooks...