Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Walking the Hackney Brook with John Rogers

The YouTube blurb for this video says:

This lost river walk along the Hackney Brook is guided by Tom Bolton's book London's Lost Rivers - A Walker's Guide, Volume Two. Thanks Tom. 

The course of the river starts just off Holloway Road in North London and then crosses the road cutting across Seven Sisters Road to Tollington Road and from here to Hornsey Road and round the Arsenal Emirates Stadium. 

We follow the river as it runs parallel to Gillespie Road, past the old Highbury Stadium then crosses Blackstock Road bound for Clissold Park in Stoke Newington. 

The Hackney Brook runs along the northern edge of Abney Park Cemetery, crosses Stamford Hill, Hackney Downs, Amhurst Road, Mare Street and runs parallel to Morning Lane in Hackney. 

We then walk along Wick Lane into Hackney Wick. The Hackney Brook makes its confluence with the River Lea just past Old Ford Lock.

John has a Patreon account to support his videos and blogs at The Lost Byway

Lord Bonkers' Diary: "We shall travel by the old roads"

Yes, the sly old fox had us all fooled. I hope Nanny, who spent weeks knitting him a fisherman's jersey, will not cut up rough.

"We shall travel by the old roads"

I had planned to follow Ashdown’s lead and spend some time working aboard a Grimsby trawler, but the passage from Rutland Water to the North Sea is a treacherous one and not to be undertaken without the services of an experienced pilot - that may be why it does not appear on many charts. Besides, from what I hear, the Grimsby skippers have all tied up their vessels, left for Norway or become Uber drivers. Some have done all three.

So I arranged instead to be dropped off as soon as I was out of sight of the Quay, and waiting for me on the beach were my old friends the Elves of Rockingham Forest. They had promised to show me the real England - the Ancient England – and I was grateful for the offer.

Their leader, an elven prince named Elrond or Elvis or something like that, told me that we were to travel on foot. "What about the A6 and the A14?" I asked. "We shall have to cross them somewhere." "They won’t trouble us," Elvis replied. "We shall travel by the old roads."

Lord Bonkers was Liberal MP for Rutland South West. 1906-10.

Previously in Lord Bonkers' Diary

Monday, September 20, 2021

GUEST POST Saving Church Langton's open space from the Diocese of Leicester

Anthony Lawton on a Leicestershire village's campaign to defend its only open space.

I know far too little about my mother who, a single mother after being widowed when I was three, died herself when I was eighteen. I do recall she was a self-professed liberal and Liberal, committed to being active in the community. She also brought me up within the Church of England. 

However, although the impact of her liberalism and community action endures, fifty years on from teenage confirmation my church going days are long gone. A year of bewildering and stubborn behaviour by leaders and institutions in the Diocese of Leicester has seriously eroded what little faith that endured still, or at least in the church hierarchy beyond the parish.

For decades the grass, Thorpe Path Field and The Bucket, has been the one accessible open space within our village boundaries in rural Church Langton in Leicestershire. A public footpath crosses the land. There villagers of all ages walk and talk, congregate and play, and exercise dogs of many types and sizes in ways they cannot, despite appearances, in the privately owned farming land all around.

Donated, I believe, by the Revd William Hanbury to his charity founded in the 1750s to pursue grandiose plans for a national centre of learning to rival Oxford and Cambridge, the field was for many years part of the playing fields of the local school founded in the 1870s. In the early 2000s it passed from the stewardship of the Hanbury Charity to fellow charity, the Leicester Diocesan Board of Education (LDBE), in an asset-swap to facilitate the building of a new Langton Community Hall next to the school

LDBE trustees want to realise the value they think the field has as building land, despite it being formally designated ‘Open Space for Sport and Recreation’ by Harborough District Council, and despite the council leader asserting he sees no prospect of successful evasion of the implied responsibilities. To date, two planning applications and an appeal to the National Planning Inspector have been vigorously and successfully opposed by the community.

The Board of Education’s leaders have stated on the record, several times, that they have no intention to renew planning applications for the “foreseeable future”. The Board professes in its vision statement to work “with” local communities. Yet the it has in the last couple of years sought to exclude villagers from the field — save for access to the public footpath — against the wishes of the local community, in order to seek to graze livestock, without disclosing how this helps advance their long-term interests. 

Trustees have rejected all offers from villagers and the Parish Council to rent the land for village recreational use until such time as the Board is successful, if ever it is, in winning building permission. Some twenty four trustees, including the Bishop of Leicester, have resisted all the supportive entreaties of the local conservative MP, local district and county councillors, the leader of Harborough District Council, even the church’s own lay incumbent and the local parochial church council.

Despite numerous requests, and formal complaints to trustees and the Charity Commissioners, still no-one outside the charity has been given a clear, persuasive reason why the Board persists so stubbornly to reject community offers. One of the two formal objects of LDBE is always to embody the principles and doctrines of the CoE. I can recall no principle or doctrine which favours being untransparent, so disrespectful of local community interests, and so stubborn.

We "need to pray passionate prayers to change stubborn situations," wrote one local Reverend in a regular church column in the local paper. Characterising myself now as an unbeliever, and ever-influenced by my mother’s liberalism, I prefer to put my faith rather in the power of collective community action.

Mind you, the Diggers who in the 1600s actively opposed enclosures by the church and other landowners, believed in both prayer and action, in pursuit of their belief that "no man has any right to buy and sell the earth for private gain". 

That may be a belief too far for many. However the not-for-financial-profit Charity Board of Education trustees are stewards and custodians of the land which the board holds in trust for public benefit, not private gain. They should not be so focused upon profit-maximising.

I persist in believing they might be brought to their senses about their own diocese-wide interests, as well as the interests of the local community, by concerted community action, including the lobbying of political representatives of all persuasions and none. 

We will as committed active citizens continue actively and insightfully to collaborate to change this “stubborn situation”. But, inspired as I am by the Diggers and mindful of the local Reverend’s advice, I have said publicly I might just try some "passionate prayers" too.

You can follow Church Langton's Keep Our Open Space Open campaign on Twitter..

Lord Bonkers' Diary: Meadowcroft was heard to blow his nose loudly

The last time I spoke to Lord Bonkers he was full of his plans to travel round Britain. Since then I 've received only the odd postcard from him.

That is, until this diary was put through my door late one night. I heard it drop through the letterbox and looked to see who had have delivered it, but elves are good at blending with background foliage.

How long Lord Bonkers will be away, I do not know. Nor do I know if my flaky internet connection will allow me to post all these entries.

But here goes...

Meadowcroft was heard to blow his nose loudly

Summer was still young when I set out to discover England – and, indeed, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. I had in mind writing a book along the lines of Paddy Ashdown’s Beyond Westminster – or Beyond Our Paddy, as it was affectionately known to his many admirers. I still miss the man and those letters of his marked ‘Top Secret: Burn Before Reading.’

A gratifyingly large crowd had gathered on Oakham Quay that morning to see me leave Rutland aboard the Saucy Sarah Olney; Cook was inconsolable and even Meadowcroft was heard to blow his nose loudly. (The Well-Behaved Orphans, by contrast appeared to be Bearing Up Well.) How everyone waved as I sailed away!

Lord Bonkers was Liberal MP for Rutland South West. 1906-10.

Climax Blues Band: Couldn't Get It Right

The Climax Chicago Blues Band was formed in Stafford in 1967 to play blues standards. In time, it shortened its name and broadened its repertoire into blues-tinged rock.

Couldn't Get It Right reached number 10 in the UK singles chart and number 3 in the US in 1976. Wikipedia tells a fanciful story about its genesis:

The song was recorded for their eighth studio album, Gold Plated, which was named after Pete Haycock's Veleno guitar and produced by Mike Vernon. The song was specifically written and produced after the manager of the band, Miles Copeland III, demanded that the band append a radio-friendly song to the track listing. 

The band at the time had released eight albums and although that had translated into fame, they did not have a great impact on the charts. Copeland suggested a cover version of an Elvis Presley song; this suggestion was ignored, and instead the band came up with an original composition "from absolutely nowhere".

It was simply a case of sitting in the studio, conjuring up a rhythm, appending the traditional dual vocals for which Climax Blues Band were known, and coming up with a couple of hooks. The sudden emergence of the song irritated the producer, as he thought the band had been withholding a hit from him.

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Llandudno goat selfie warning from coastguard

A goat yesterday.

BBC News should thank a Liberal England reader for nominating them for our coveted Headline of the Day Award.

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Blogging may be light...

I'm having problems with my internet connection at home.

This is no bad thing, in that it encourages me to go to bed when I get back from caring for my mum, but it does mean blogging is likely to be light for a few days.

In the mean time, you can always find me on Twitter and Instagram.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

North Yorkshire Police phone lines deluged with ‘people complaining about each other’

Embed from Getty Images

Our Headline of the Day Award goes to the website YorkMix.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

A fascinating 1980 interview with Leonard Rossiter

Leonard Rossiter is best remembered as the creator of Rigsby and Reggie Perrin, but before he was a sitcom star he was a celebrated actor on stage and screen. He has a habit of turning up in films (King Rat, 2001, Barry Lyndon) where you do not expect to find him. 

Click on the image of Rossiter as King John above to watch an interview, recorded in 1980, in which he talks about his career. 

Rossiter died in 1984, during a performance of Joe Orton's Loot. He was playing Inspector Truscott and I had seen him in the role only a few weeks before.

Monday, September 13, 2021

The Joy of Six 1026

Contrary to popular and academic belief, says Deborah Boucoyannis, Adam Smith did not accept inequality as a necessary trade-off for a more prosperous economy: "The key principles of Smith’s system work against the concentration of wealth - they also speak to the top issues in economic policy today: profits, taxes, and the minimum wage."

Clio Chang argues that the past decade has seen all that was most fun about the internet destroyed by an increasingly unsustainable media ecosystem built for the wealthy.

Why are boys more likely than girls to be deemed to have special educational needs? James Redburn investigates.

In 1973 W.H. Auden was interviewed on Parkinson and David J. Collard has the transcript: "I was walking across a field at school with a friend of mine who later turned into a painter called Robert Medley, and he said 'Do you ever write poetry?' and I said 'No, I've never thought of it' and he said 'Why don’t you?' and at that moment I knew that was what I was going to do."

Emily Knight reviews a new biography of Joseph Wright of Derby, the "painter of light".

Roger French fails to reach Britain's most westerly bus stop.

Sunday, September 12, 2021

A new picture of my hero J.W. Logan MP

J.W. Logan's Wikipedia entry now has this picture of the great man.

It's not as good as the one of him with the East Langton ladies cricket team, mind.

Logan, as regular readers will know, was Liberal MP for Harborough between 1891 and 1904, and between 1910 and 1916.

They will also know that he once instigated a mass brawl on the floor of the Commons.

And as I recently blogged, Logan is quoted in The Shortest History of England by James Hawes.

Handel: The Trumpet Shall Sound


I have taken to using my phone to play my mother classical music while I am caring for her.

She loves The Messiah and I have long found that He Shall Feed His Flock makes me wish there was a God.

I don't get the same yearnings from The Trumpet Shall Sound, but it is a magnificent piece of music and Phillipe Sly is a mighty bass-baritone. I have also developed a love of the baroque trumpet from listening to Mark Bennett and Aksel Rykkvin.

As ever, Handel makes the most of the words he was given:
Behold, I tell you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.
The trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 
For this corruptible must put on incorruption and this mortal must put on immortality.

Saturday, September 11, 2021

The disappearance of Central Croydon station

Jago Hazzard takes us to the site of Central Croydon. This station, which was sited where its name implies, was a commercial failure. It was open for two short periods: 1868-71 and 1886-90.

The short branch to it from East Croydon was long ago lost under the Fairfield Halls and Town Hall, but Jago manages to find some scant remains.

And he tells us how it might have become an Underground station.

you can support Jago's videos via his Patreon page.

Friday, September 10, 2021

Peter Cook was realistic about what satire can achieve

Embed from Getty Images

Satire is everywhere. I've been known to write it myself. But what does it achieve?

Peter Cook, the godfather of the satire boom of the Sixties, was a realist on this question.

He once said his own Establishment Club had been inspired by "those wonderful Berlin cabarets which did so much to stop the rise of Hitler and prevent the outbreak of the second world war".

And the most notable achievement of 30 years of Have I Got News For You has been to help make Boris Johnson prime minister.

Andy Burnham is right about the funding of social care

Embed from Getty Images 

Writing in the Evening Standard, Andy Burnham puts his finger on the central issue in funding social care:
Boris may have introduced a cap on care costs but, at £86,000, it is still a huge sum of money. And the reason it is so high is because the Tories have stuck with the approach where only those who need care should have to pay. 
So the Tories are in effect sticking with a "dementia tax" policy which will still make people face the indignity of draining their parents' bank accounts to pay for often sub-standard care.
And he proposes a solution that addresses it:
Here’s Labour’s opportunity to end this injustice once and for all and extend the NHS principle to social care. It should create a National Care Service. Labour should ask all older people to contribute, whether they need care or not. Everyone benefits from this approach because it means no one has to worry about care costs in the later stages of their life. And by asking all older people to contribute, the cost comes right down.

More than 10 years ago, I proposed this approach as health secretary as part of my plan for a National Care Service. My 10 per cent care levy on all estates was labelled a "death tax" but I still stand by it. Taxes are never popular but they are at least fair when everyone has to pay them and everyone feels some benefit.
The present system is a lottery. If your surviving parent drops dead with a heart attack you win everything. If they develop dementia even a couple of years before they die, you win nothing.

Speaking as the carer of an elderly parent, I'd welcome this levy, because it would give me some certainty about what I was going to inherit.

I'd be happy to trade a percentage of an inheritance that may never arrive for such certainty and security.