by Carol Westron
Lincoln College, Oxford, after which he held a senior scholarship at St. John’s, studying
Classics. The British School of Archaeology in Athens requested Casson’s assistance in the project of creating a new catalogue of the Acropolis.
Casson was clearly a politically aware man and, in 1935, as the clouds of war grew darker, he moved away from archaeological and artistic themes to write Steady Drummer, a personal account of the war in the Balkans, in which he puts forward convincing arguments that the Balkan Front was one of the decisive factors in the Allied Victory.
architecture, history and politics at its core.
A few minutes later the Colonel and his troop arrive in the market square. ‘The strains of the alien tune grew
louder and louder. ‘Giovinezza,’ sung without its Italian fire and with English words, boomed and bleated along Station Road, accompanied by the rappings of the solitary drum. A moment later fifteen young men in approximate marching formation debouched towards the square and came to a halt near the public convenience. At their head was a spare, thin and pleasant-looking man, Colonel Theodore Cackett, R.E., D.S.O.’...
unessential diversions. They were all young countrymen of Kynchester and the neighbourhood. They were all fresh-complexioned, pleasantly clumsy and obviously happy. But their happiness was more due to the relief at ceasing to sing ‘Giovinezza’ and to the prospect of a quick one at the Silent Woman than to any particular enthusiasm for their Pursuit.
The introduction of the Colonel and his ill-thought-out ideas is told with great humour, but there is an underlying sense of foreboding as the soft, ancient bells of the church are replaced by the out of tune marching music. This is emphasised when the young ‘Roman Guard’ return to the market-place. ‘With the dust now cleared from their throats they sang once more a verse of ‘Giovinezza.’ The cathedral clock interposed with the four chimes and the seven strokes of the hour. This did considerable damage to the tune. Both renderings came to a stop at the same time.’
At first the canon and the colonel are on good terms, for the canon respects the colonel’s patriotism and politics if not his intelligence, ‘“After all, he is president of our Conservative Association.”’
unlike the arrogant and ignorant ‘lady of the manor’, Lady Georgiana Perchington. Miss Boddick and Hilary ally themselves with Canon Burbery, while Lady Georgiana is a supporter of Colonel Cackett. Lady Georgiana is determined to halt progress and learning, in order, as Miss Boddick observes, to retain her supply of servile housemaids, and for the same reason she rules the Girl Guides with a rod of iron. ‘“I do hope you will both come and give a talk to my Girl Guides. Dear things, they are a little stupid, and one does one’s best. I like to keep them interested in their town without getting too clever. I always think too much education is very bad for that class of girl. It makes them want to give up domestic service and become lady typists, and then where should we all be!”... “Fortunately they are full of simple faith and very well brought up; at least in my village. Some of the older people did try to open a village library, but the dear vicar and I succeeded in preventing such a calamity. That would never do in our village. The girls would have started reading the most unpleasant books, I am sure, and they would have had no time left to spend on sewing and helping their mothers.”’
before the Second World War. At first the antics of the Colonel with his local ‘Roman soldiers is a source of innocent amusement, as when Hilary, having read his manifesto, remarks, ‘“Then that explains why Jim Barber, the cathedral gardener’s boy, has taken to wearing a queer sort of button with SPQR written on it. I was talking to him in the Close. He is a Roman Guard! What fun, Auntie; it’s just like being in Germany or somewhere, though I bet Jim hasn’t an idea what SPQR means.”’