Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Liberal England in 2016: Part 1


New Year's Day saw me at Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem in Nottingham, one of many pubs that claims to be the oldest in England:
 At the bar the locals were discussing cricket with a barman from Australia or New Zealand. All was right with the world.
It was not to last.

Nick Clegg, I argued, had last an empire but not yet found a role. Happily, he found one as a party spokesman in the aftermath of the European referendum.

I reported that Nick Rushton, Conservative leader of Leicestershire County Council, had had his Twitter account hacked by someone who then followed tweeters of pornography:
As well as following Huge Boob Pics and ILikeBootyDaily, he followed Market Harborough Conservatives.
My reward was to be blocked by him.

I interviewed Leicester author Rod Duncan about the appeal of steampunk:
"I’m not aware of a political ideology underpinning this diverse community. But some of the social features of steampunk culture are an unbridled outpouring of creativity and a willingness to project a flamboyant persona, even when others view it as eccentric. You can add to that a welcoming of diversity and an unusual spread of generations from the very young to the elderly."
I encountered Big Brother in a Northamptonshire park

And I discovered the family links between George Osborne and Lord Lucan.


Those stories that the cream of British rock could once be heard playing in remote Shropshire pubs turned out to be true.

I received a tribute from Hookland.

David Cameron, I reported, had worked out how to deal with Jeremy Corbyn's tactic of sourcing his questions from members of the public.

Much good did it do him.

I reminisced about about seeing Kenneth Branagh's West End debut in Another Country and found a video of an interview he and Rupert Everett gave at the time.

Which brings us to Branagh's first wife Emma Thompson.

Her comments on Britain being "a tiny little cloud-bolted, rainy corner of sort-of Europe, a cake-filled misery-laden grey old island," led me to admonish her:
If we want the forces of light to win the referendum on British membership of the European Union then we have to get away that it is a project of the elites.
If only the world had listened.

I ended the month by comparing The Boy in Striped Pyjamas with a classic of my own childhood, I am David:
I am David was written in a different era. It is not about death, but about escape, moral growth and the finding of happiness.


In November 1888 the good people of Market Harborough suspected that Jack the Ripper had come to town:
One thing which had excited the suspicions of the neighbours and the police also, was that the same man was in Market Harbough about three weeks ago and stayed at the same house. His movements were then considered peculiar and the neighbours were actually alarmed about him. While here, no murders occurred in London, but after he had gone back, the latest horror was perpetrated.
I came across the Shrewsbury punk band the Stains, whose lead singer Dom Estos turned out to have an interesting family history.

Paul Keetch announced the formation of Liberal Leave. His arguments sound even sillier today than they did at the time.

I argued that the Liberal Democrats were still some way from achieving their goal of one member, one vote.

Schools, I argued, were being nationalised so they could be nationalised:
The forced application of a business ethos to education will result in narrowed educational provision and a diminished life in many communities, even if the schools stay in the public sector.
Praising an article by Ian Jack, I used a photo of York in 1980. Walmgate looked very different then, which explains why I find it hard to orient myself there when I go back there.

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