I always feel like February is a pretty dull month, and as a friend of mine recently said, it’s a good job it’s only restricted to 28 days! It’s like a Tuesday- not the start of a new week, and nowhere near the end! No longer is it the start of a new year, and we’re nowhere near Easter yet either! February always seems to be wet too, rain’s forecast all week apparently. I can’t figure out why I don’t like February really- maybe it’s the time of year by which I’m certain Arsenal won’t win anything, or when I realise I’ve run out of Christmas chocolate, signalling the beginning of the annual diet. Maybe I’m just looking forward to Easter, when I’ll be moving house and taking a family holiday to New York! Or maybe it’s because February is all about- Valentine’s Day.
Now just in case my wife ventures on my blog (!) I should probably start by saying that Valentine’s Day is a lovely day to share with her! However, as a concept- it’s incredibly annoying. For starters, it’s another day when I’m expected to buy a card. I hate buying cards- what a way to save the trees, writing a message I can say out loud anyway. And then there’s the problem of presents- do I get one, do I not get one, do I make one, should it be cool, cheesy, romantic??? Complicated. Frustrating. Stupid February.But we shouldn’t write the month of love off, especially as historians. If you’ve glance at the the “This Month in History” display you can see plenty of interesting events to do with relationships took place, particularly in relation to our 6th form courses. For year 12’s, it was on the 8th February 1904 that the Russo-Japanese War began- a catastrophic miscalculation by Tsar Nicholas, one which ultimately led to the downfall of the Romanov’s. Russia and Japan were about to enter a beautiful relationship, but like being ‘left at the altar’, Russia abandoned Japan at the last minute, thinking they knew best. If Japan is the ‘woman’ of the relationship’, then Russia certainly felt a woman’s scorn.
For year 13’s, we see how Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro was sworn in as Prime Minister of Cuba on the 16th, in 1959. Our recent study of the Bay of Pigs fiasco and the Cuban Missile Crisis has taught us how important this moment was to the ever-complicated relationship between USA and the USSR, where they hate one another, but for some reason just can’t keep their hands off each other 😉 With regards to International Relations, Castro was sadly to be the ‘third wheel’ in the Kennedy-Khrushchev era of this relationship.
Talking of Khrushchev, it was on the 25th of this month, in 1956, that he denounced Stalin at the 20th Communist Party Congress, in his then secret, but soon after not so secret address. Talk about bitching about an ex! I’ve been reading your essays on “peaceful coexistence”, and it’s be interesting to read how some of you considered Khrushchev to be more moderate than Stalin. In domestic policy this is undoubtedly true, but with regards to International relations, I’m not so sure. His use of ‘nuclear sabre rattling’ was certainly a risky strategy, especially if someone was to call his bluff. Khrushchev strikes me as a bit of a player (especially with a first name like Nikita!)- he dumps on Stalin when he’s gone, adopts the policy of ‘peaceful coexistence’ with the West, but is willing to be quite manipulative to get what he wants!
Relationships are never simple, be they on a personal, national or international level. Perhaps some prefer to be alone, or will wait until scientific advances lead us to find our perfect partner through scientific chemistry rather than the romantic kind! With that in mind, Dolly the sheep was cloned on the 22nd of February, back in 1997. Think she’s dead now.
N.B- Knowledge tests will be happening soon for both years, so now’s a good time to consolidate on some of our work this term!