Sunday, January 24, 2016

Today -100: January 24, 1916: There is no good in being up in the air alone

Dublin police raid the house of Countess Constance Markievicz, the suffragette and Irish nationalist (she married into the Polish title) who in 1918 will be the first woman elected to Parliament, although she will not take her seat. Um, spoiler alert. The police seize a printing press they claim was used to print pro-German literature.

There’s a colorful parliamentary by-election campaign in the Mile End district of London. With the general election postponed, this is about all there is for gauging British public opinion. The contest is between Warwick Brookes and Pemberton Billing, two men with four very English last names between them. Billing is running as an independent on a platform of stopping the zeppelin bombings of London. He makes his speeches from an airplane towed around behind an automobile. Another campaigning innovation: showing movies of himself flying planes. Billing’s been involved in various aviation-related business ventures for years and just resigned from the Royal Naval Air Service to run for Parliament, saying “There is no good in being up in the air alone. I must get into Parliament and impress upon it the necessity of more equipment.” He won’t get in this time but will soon. He will also be responsible for the first appearance of the word “clitoris” in the London Times; check back in two years for more on that.

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