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The Hidden Commonwealth

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The Commonwealth of Nations is an association of over 86 nations which spans the globe. Wait a minute, did I say 86? I’ll count them again. Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Canada…India, Jamaica…New Zealand, Papua New Guinea…Tuvalu, United Kingdom. I counted 54 this time, so where did I find the others?

Tucked away in the world’s nooks and crannies are a collection of nations proud of their histories and unique systems of government. 32 individual nations made up of all different shapes and sizes. Some have populations as little as 50 people (Pitcairn Islands). Some have populations as big as 64,600 (Bermuda). TheMap of the  World CW and CW Realmsy are the territories, dependencies and associated states of Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

The overseas territories of these three great nations are viewed by many as relics of the once mighty British Empire. They are seen as objects that the three nations should now discard: reminders of the injustices of colonialism. But that is a very narrow view. The benefits of empire will continue to be debated for as long as mankind exists, but one thing the British Empire did do was to evolve, with a lot of persuasion, into the modern Commonwealth. And the territories, however tiny or eccentric, are all pieces of the jigsaw that make up the Commonwealth family. Each piece unique, with its own set of circumstances. Read more

With the Night Mail

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To someone only familiar with the Jungle Book series and its Disneyfied film adaptations, the 1905 short story With the Night Mail is a rather mundane entry in the Rudyard Kipling bibliography. No tales of exotic creatures in exotic locales, no epics of adventure in far-flung corners of the British Empire, just the story of a humble courier accompanying a load of mail on the transatlantic post office airship to Quebec City in the year 2000.

Come again?

nmcoverKipling’s steampunk-esque vision of the future appears highly anachronistic today. Although far more advanced in its development at the time, the passenger airship would live for only another three decades, meeting an untimely demise from fiery crashes and the rise of the passenger plane. Nevertheless, the tale’s core is surprisingly prophetic: ‘Postal Packet 162’ is scheduled to complete the London-Quebec run in twelve hours – not much different from an average transatlantic flight today, and a great improvement over the five-day voyage the British traveller faced at the time. Read more