Inspiration in the English Countryside

Woodspring PrioryI have just returned from England, where I was doing research for my next biography.

I was lucky to find an historic location that was essentially untouched, set in coastal meadows, and protected from the sea breezes by grass-covered dunes. The only sounds were bumblebees foraging among the spring flowers, and the bleating of sheep. Fat, wooly ewes shepherded their new lambs among the tender green grasses, unconcerned with strangers in their midst. Lush fields surrounded me, outlined with spring-fed, water-filled ditches. May trees were flowering, defining hedgerows, their white blossoms adding their sweet scent to the air. The sky was an intense blue on the day of my visit, dotted with small white clouds scudding across the sky. 

Here, in this peaceful, sheltered place, stood a cluster of golden coloured stone buildings dating back centuries. They seemed tranquil, but within their walls, they harboured secrets of earlier times. Long ago, monks had worked and lived here. In later years farmers had taken ownership of the gothic buildings, adapting them as barns and as a farmhouse. 

The subject of my next book came here on a visit around 1880, not knowing that his actions on that day would lead indirectly to his death a world away twenty-one years later.

The story has started to unfold…

Brexit: The UK leaves Europe: Observations from a tourist.

Changing topics: I arrived back in Canada a week before the UK voted to leave Europe. The vote was no surprise to me. I had spent most of my trip in the country, which the politicians clearly had not done. The London-based establishment had been so obsessed with their own specific interests that they had neglected their own citizens’ concerns and desires. Along train lines farmers had posted signs encouraging people to vote ‘Leave’. Fishermen in the southwest were still angry about the Spanish taking their fish. Farmers were being paid to keep fields fallow. The concern I was indirectly hearing was of the loss of the British (or English) ‘culture’, the global homogenization of every-day life; the eradication of what was once special, and unique. The taking away of what people still hold dear.

London is another world. Already cosmopolitan, such eradication of values has already happened there; it is of no concern. But in the country, and in smaller cities and towns it is still important enough for people to make a stand for the preservation of what people consider important in their lives, and what they deemed they have already lost, and would continue to lose under the Euro blanket.

After returning, and watching the arguments still taking place up until the vote itself, I heard wealthy London businessmen selfishly talk about “how bad a ‘leave’ vote will be for this city, ah, um, I mean the country.” And others shockingly talking about the “white” vote in the country, ruining their plans. Those are the English people they are talking about, and they were turning the vote into an ugly, reverse racist arguement. It was a divisive, fracturing, campaign and vote.

Regardless of the greater, and very real, concerns for the security of Europe; the stability of the economy; the ease of trade across Europe; it was all indicative of a government that had either disregarded – or ignored – its citizens. A very bad position to be in.  

End of observations.