And I would rather be anywhere else but here today.

Tired after the longest trip yet to spread my unction as I had a stall at a ‘VIP ladies day’ at Northampton cricket ground yesterday. Did quite well and had a new plant on display; a leptospermum, or tea tree plant. Now this is the antipodean plant that bees collect pollen from to make manuka honey and from which the ridiculously expensive manuka oil is harvested that is an ingredient of my unction. So it’s a little confusing that it doesn’t produce tea tree oil, that comes from Melaleuca alteranafolia, native to Australia. My patter explaining this to the ‘VIP ladies’ spread more confusion than understanding. A little worryingly a couple of women came to the stall under the misapprehension that I was some sort of expert on skin problems.

Prior to the ‘VIP ladies day’ I stayed overnight with Julie and Jim and had a delicious meal in their wonderful house. It was good to rekindle the friendship, Julie and I had been students at the now non-existent Chelsea College and we had some reminiscing and mutual updating. It was a little weird looking at photos of our much younger selves, especially when there were folk pictured with us that neither of us had any recollection of. Julie also spoke about a fellow alumni who was Clement Attlee’s granddaughter, this was news to me and she couldn’t remember her name.

Before going to their house I had been in the Bystander pub in Wootton to watch the rugger. I’d checked online earlier to find a pub to watch the rugger and this was the closest to Julie and Jim’s  but it looked a bit ‘low rent’ to my middle class tastes so I’d found another pub further away. When I found that pub I didn’t like the look and it wasn’t very close, so having a little time I checked out a hostelry in a little village imagining myself sitting in a country pub with hearty fellow rugger buggers. It was a gastro pub and the bar staff looked blankly when I asked about showing the rugby, a woman overheard me asking and told me the nearest pub showing the rugby was the Bystander. I went and sure enough it was a lower class inn, but I bought a cheaper than normal beer and sat in a comfy chair near some rough looking fellows in England rugby shirts. I had a good time, England thrashed the hapless Scots and I inwardly berated myself for being a pompous prat.

And on Start the Week with Mr Marr, David Goodheart talks about his book in which he divides people of this country into ‘somewheres’ and ‘anywheres’. Basically the anywheres are folk who are more liberal and global in outlook and see themselves as having more achieved identities which come about through educational achievement, then leaving their home for further educational achievement followed by professional and maybe further achievements. This involves a lot of moving about and a sense of self is located in the self. The somewheres have more of an ascribed identity forged by where they are born and live and the jobs they do and these have a greater sense of identity located in groups and places outside of themselves. And guess what, these groupings are accurately reflected in the current brexitian politics. I have a great deal of sympathy with this perspective as well as experience of it, and it’s caused me bother and confrontation over the years. And now it’s come to a head with brexit and suddenly this country feels very divided, just like much of the western world.

Sadly people look to ‘leaders’ to lead us to a ‘safer’ place and the opposite is happening with demagogic ‘leaders’ leading us into dangerous places, playing on people’s understandable fears as their sense of place and identity is threatened. And certain ‘anywheres’ like Ian McEwan write of the dangers in terms such as: “It’s also serious because Great Britain works on the basis of a parliamentary democracy and not through plebiscites, which remind me of the Third Reich.” The world feels ever more dangerous.

And in these changing times it’s reassuring to have the boring predictability of soccer to have the FA cup semi-finalists come from the top of the premier league.

And suddenly all our nationalistic support of British cycling success is tarnished, how long before our cyclists join the Russians in being banned from the Olympics?


Keep on keeping on, love Duncan.




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