Culture Articles

Where were you born?

My father’s family lived in the same valley for at least 300 years until my grandfather, the youngest of seven brothers, realised there wasn’t much of a future for him on a small farm, and set off for the big city more than a century ago.

My neighbour’s family have lived in the same village since 1718.

‘The Good Life’ was a comedy programme set in suburbia in Southern England.  A couple were trying to be self sufficient  not on some remote hill farm in Wales, or in a Tuscan idyll,  but right where they were, a tube ride away from central London and surrounded by thousands of other people who were trying to live their own version of ‘The Good Life’ i.e. one where the golf club, the right schools and expensive holidays were the norm. The comedy came from the contrast between the two.

You perhaps associate the word ‘guerrilla’ with something wild and dangerous, but guerrilla gardening is something rather different.  Around here though it is part of an increasing frustration at the slow progress or inaction of those in authority. Because of the recession the local council has had to cut back services – although not pay for its many officials. One of the first thing to go in this ward was planters or rather their contents. Bright, sometimes gaudy, blooms that brightened up the area, especially in those places where individual gardens are few and far between.  It was agreed more than a year ago that the actual planters could be used by local people to grow crops. Then came the frustrating bits – you have to have insurance, you need a licence, soil must be tested for toxins and all the rest.  In the meantime we’ve had an election and many councillors have been replaced. And so we had to start negotiations all over again – with no effect whatsoever..

In one of our Wednesday discussions on Skype we were talking about the pros and cons of having a royal family, and a few of the participants weren't sure what the duties and powers of the British royal family are, so I've cobbled together this explanation, which may inform, or confuse you.  The monarchy of the United Kingdom (commonly referred to as the British monarchy) is the constitutional monarchy of the United Kingdom and its overseas territories.

A constitutional monarchy is a form of government in which a monarch acts as head of state within the parameters of a constitution. This form of government differs from absolute monarchy in that an absolute monarch serves as the sole source of political power in the state and is not legally bound by any constitution.  Yes, this means that England does not have a written constitution, in fact it's a bit of a political hot potato.

If you were to look out of the window today you’d see the sun shining brightly. It might even seem warm. But just take another look, and listen carefully too. Trees are bending and just about everything that isn’t tied down is bowling down the street. Today is Thursday – the day we all leave our rubbish out for the bin men. Unfortunately the wind has been howling since about 2 am. – and most people put their rubbish out last night.