camel of the day 17-11-2019

The Gordon statue in Khartoum, 1936. It was returned to Britain - to the Gordon School - in 1959.

There aren't enough statues of camels, obviously.

To be fair though, there are two too many of this one.  Both castings currently reside at places where Charles George Gordon went to school.  This picture, on the other hand, was taken in Khartoum; which is where he died.  The British Prime Minister of the time, Gladstone, had been forced by public pressure, newspaper editors and Queen Victoria to send a force under Gordon to confront the Mahdist anti-colonial rebellion there. 

Once Gordon got there, he found out that it was mission impossible, and (after a fair bit of faffing including the reintroduction of slavery)  got the women and children out of Khartoum as well as sending a plea for relief. Gladston told him to get out.  But the public, queenie and the newspaper editors all made sure relief was despatched.  It was too late. Several thousand other people (and, less importantly, Gordon) died.

Amongst British people and the rare overseas fans of the Victorian imperial mission to murder non-Britons with religion, drugs and economics, “General Gordon of Khartoum” is a great hero. 

To people like me who think that imperialism is generally bad, that the Chinese have every right to avoid filling themselves with opium, and that there’s possibly something suspicious about a famously celibate man who travels the world killing for his government and then comes home to run a boarding school for disadvantaged boys before heading back to the Empire to re-establish slavery; not so much. 

The statues are at the Chatham barracks of the Royal Schools of Engineers, and at the Gordon School.  Yes, there’s a school named after him.  The Gordon school is essentially a military boarding school.  This is a bit worrying given matey’s propensity for disobeying orders with support from the Queen and the newspapers.

As if not enough Sudanese had suffered for Gordon, the camel that was the model for the statue had to be visited daily at London Zoo by the artist for around two years – because it refused to stand still.


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