Monday 7 July 2014

Dolly Parton and the English countryside.

Driving up to Charlbury on Friday we had the latest Dolly Parton CD "Blue Water" on. Did you see her at Glastonbury?  I did - or at least virtually via the dear old BBC (too old to actually go to these things now!). She is not just a good singer but a source of wisdom. I remember wanting to use one of her homely homilies in a lecture I was writing but my then Director, one Ralph Michell, was disapproving. He's now at the Cabinet Office where I'm sure they don't do Dolly.

Here are some of my favourites.

"The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain".

"Storms make trees take deeper roots".

"We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails".

It was a pretty glorious weekend in Charlbury. It's such a delight to move from the pollution of London  to the purer air of the Cotswolds. Walking the Hound down the Mill Stream I was reminded of just how beautiful our English countryside is; the bird song was joined by the bells of Spelsbury Parish Church  and the sounds of the cricket over the fields. Of course we must never take this great inheritance for granted and so the work of bodies like the National Trust, the CPRE or the many environmental campaigning charities is crucial in stopping the depredations of over development. It's another reason why we must resist any attempt to curtail or silence our independent voice or any move by the Charity Commission to make us delineate our so called "campaigning" spend. After all, what are the "Campaign to Protect Rural England" to do in their accounts but say they spend 100% of their income on campaigning. Their official objective is to "campaign for a sustainable future for the English countryside [and to] highlight threats and promote positive solutions". It's what they do William!

And last week we had our annual Charlbury Beer Festival, quite an event these days with a vast array of boutique beers from around the Cotswolds. The proceeds go to international development charities - and no nonsense about  "every penny" as Charlburians are a sophisticated lot and understand the need for "overheads" in charities. You get an idea of the size from this photo. 

Progress is often good but sometimes bad. Our vicar in Charlbury has recently departed for the Archdeaconry of Dorchester. We have been told we are not to have a new vicar but a "priest in charge"; the Bishop of Oxford seems to be into control-freakery. The succession of Vicars and Rectors of Charlbury dates back to the 11th century. Unbroken till now. There have been some distinguished Vicars; notably one of the translators of the King James Bible. I'm afraid in such matters I'm a decided reactionary. When they do appoint a "priest in charge" I shall continue to call them Vicar. This is probably just part of a future plan to amalgamate us or turn the Church over to Carphone Warehouse.

Anyway, enough rant. I'm off to Cardiff.

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