Am I alone in developing an aversion to national flags, and especially the one with which we English are apparently currently expected to drape ourselves?
Do we really need anthems and flag waving in order to enjoy the game? Are we claiming some kind of superior national character at, say, the Olympics as our heroes defeat the best that Lesotho or Belize has to offer in competition with our relatively limitless resources and skilled deployment of lottery funding in pursuit of medals?
No doubt every nation has and needs its mythologies and we’re well to the fore. Many nations seem to have come to terms with theirs and express surprise that we continue to polish ours. Other than the creepy tax exiles that we now know illegally funded their self-serving Leave campaign, was the devotion of some of the more deluded “Brexit” voters to the kind of “we stood alone” myth (ask the Russians) a key factor in their vote?
Serious decisions were being made at the time of the “referendum to save the Tory party” and there can surely be little doubt that the attraction of, say, returning to a non-existent past will have influenced many. It matters not if your past has just been invented provided it makes you feel good?
My own feeling is that, as a nation, our actual track record hasn’t been too awful, though light years away from what we are still inclined to teach in our schools. Less so nowadays and the country isn’t what I believe I grew up in. Catastrophes like the EU vote make it clear that any underlying negative national characteristics lie not far from the surface, itching to have their day in the name of “our traditional values”. But, hey, wrap ourselves in a red and white flag (borrowed from Genoa, Swabia, Georgia and a few other cities and nations) and we’re true English, or Brits (bearing in mind that the concept of “Britain” has a shorter history than, say, Twinings Tea), and we can merrily celebrate our moral superiority over the Hun, the French or indeed anybody else. English values eh? Spare me.
The importance of resigning on a point of principle — the principle of saving one’s own career and political party. Wow! English values eh?
To change subject, I can report to those who kindly follow this blog that recent radiotherapy appears to have succeeded in its task of stabilising a large brain tumour which I am obliged to carry about with me, though sadly not preventing it from continuing to work its malice.
Looking back, I don’t believe I’ve talked much in my previous posts about what I have actually been doing for a living?
Well, after some 46 years or so in the fields of town and country planning, the implementation of environmental improvement schemes and campaigning on environmental issues in Greater Manchester and now East Sussex, I am calling ‘time’ with effect from the end of August!
Currently employed part time by the South Downs Society, the ‘Friends group’ for the South Downs National Park, a week or two ago I took the opportunity to address a meeting of the National Park Authority on behalf of both my own Society and the Campaign for National Parks (CNP) to demonstrate clear public support for their work, particularly in the face of some current ‘politically charged’ hostilities! It was important and timely to show our face. We wanted to stress that we and others had campaigned for many years for the creation of a South Downs National Park and a robust, well-resourced National Park Authority and we intended to maintain and support that role for a long time to come!!
On announcing my forthcoming retirement I was surprised and delighted to receive through the post as a retirement present a superbly glossy “coffee table” book, “22 Ideas that Saved the English Countryside” published by the Campaign to Protect Rural England, with whom I, and the South Downs Society have worked closely on issues affecting the National Park. I feel deeply honoured. And what a book! What campaigns!
Changing tack again, and for once I make no comment on any of these, but my reading material (books only) since I last posted on the blog (I think this is correct) comprises the following (some are very short!):
The Lido: Libby Page
All Points North: Simon Armitage
Pass Notes: The Guardian
A Shot in the Dark: Lynne Truss
Once Upon a Time in the West Country: Tony Hawks
Eleven Minutes Late: A Train Journey to the Soul of Britain: Matthew Engel
Every Day is a Holiday: George Mahood
Not Tonight Josephine: A Road Trip Through Small Town America: George Mahood
Mail Obsession: A Journey Round Britain by Postcode: Mark Mason
All Behind You Winston: Churchill’s Great Coalition 1940-45: Roger Hermiston
Trains and Buttered Toast: John Betjeman
A Kind of Vanishing: Lesley Thomson
Whistle in the Dark: Emma Healey
What’s in a Name: The Origins of the names of stations on the London Underground and DLR: Cyril Harris
Do Not Alight Here: Walking London’s Lost Underground and Railway Stations: Ben Pedroche
and plenty more awaiting my attention..
(I know, I should get out more!)
And, as ever, it would be remiss of me not to plug once more my own recent contribution to the great world of books, Northern Soles: A Coast to Coast Walk (apologies but hey!):
Many of you, I know, are not keen on Amazon so here is a link to Northern Soles on my publisher’s website, but I would stress that it isn’t easy to supply copies from Silverwood. Amazon does at least offer you the opportunity to post nice comments, if you find yourself so inclined, which is, at the end of the day, why one writes. In the alleged words of Jeremy Thorpe’s trial judge all those years ago, “It is entirely a matter for you.”