Monday, June 20, 2011


David Lloyd George

Image via Wikipedia

I suspect I really shouldn’t have hinted that my great – great grandfather might have been Jack The Ripper -except that the idea just floated into my mind (an occupational hazard for us authors); and the co-location in London, and the conjunction of dates of both the murders and great grandfather’s invention was just (I’m searching for an excuse) too convenient.

But, I was just being mischievous; and by all accounts, Lewis Haslam was an admirable man.  Judging by his portraits, and the iron will of his daughter, Vida, he was certainly a forceful one.

No, the photo isn’t of him. It’s of Lloyd George. Think of LG as WW I’s Winston Churchill.

He. Lewis Haslam, went on to become an MP – a British Member of Parliament – and in 1911, Lloyd George offered to make him a peer (a lord). He turned that down on the grounds that Prime Minister Lloyd George was merely trying to pack the house of Lords in his favor (quite true), and that a peerage should really only be awarded for some service of note for one’s country (a debatable argument). King Charles had a habit of making his mistresses Duchesses, and being a cuckold  had promotion potential as well. The aristocracy have been as much bribed, as have served.

And thus we induct those who rule us. It all sounds remarkably like Congress to me. I was going to add “without the sex” but then sanity prevailed.

Personally, I should have thought that inventing the product, Aertex, that helped to keep the most intimate parts of the British cool justified such a title, but evidently great-grandfather thought otherwise. I gather he was also influenced by the fact that he had no son to inherit the peerage; merely two daughters: my grandmother, Vida, and her sister Lally; and he was proud of his own name, and certainly rich enough. In short he didn’t need a title, and didn’t want to be beholden to Lloyd George even though they were friends (they had adjoining constituencies in Wales and often travelled up to London by train together). Lloyd George was charming (and a notorious ladies’ man) but he could be tricky.

The British textile industry in the Nineteenth Century – the period of the Industrial Revolution – is normally associate with ‘Dark Satanic Mills,’ from a poem by William Blake, and deplorable working conditions. Whether that was the case where Lewis Haslam was concerned is doubtful for several reasons. His father had been the entrepreneur during the grizzlier days of industrialization; Lewis Haslam was a Liberal MP and stood for reform of working conditions across the board; and his daughter, my grandmother, was an idealist in the very best sense, and spent her life being socially concerned. She wasn’t a communist or even a socialist. Instead she thought society as a whole would be better off if people were treated decently and that workers would be more productive if adequately rewarded. Such was her father’s experience as an industrialist, and there was no doubt at all that that had worked out well.

All of this is my lead-in to my wondering why, roughly a century later, social concern in the U.S. seems to be so lacking, and unemployment so intractable. Surely, the U.S. Business Model is supposed to seek efficiency; and a demotivated workforce may be cowed, even obedient; but it certainly isn’t efficient  

To be continued… but now you have a hint as to why I collect economists (they keep well in formaldehyde). I am cursed with a curious disposition.



P.S. I have to wonder: Could this Jack The Ripper stuff be hereditary?










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