WALKING THE THAMES TO LONDON #7

Raising Funds for the Trussell Trust

In association with the cyclists’ group from The Prince Albert

Oxford to Abingdon 11 miles

A swollen, turbid, fast flowing river; blackthorn blossom; osiers, rushes and willows half-drowned; many trees down with the recent storms. Flooded mediaeval water meadows; rain at twilight.

I had companions today, including a food bank volunteer for Stroud. Here are some observations from a weekly commitment:

‘Stroud Foodbank has two outlets in Stroud town and a few others in the District. I help run the Nailsworth one. We don’t have much demand, so we don’t have weekly drop-in sessions in a centre. But, of course, there are some individuals in our little town who can benefit from what the Foodbank offers. They can contact the Foodbank office and obtain a voucher through the usual channels, and we arrange a Foodbank delivery to their home.’

‘I volunteer at Stroud Foodbank on Fridays, usually this is the busiest session of the week. We never know who might turn up on the day. We have a wide range of customers. A few we see every now and then who have longer term issues, others are just one-offs, caught out by temporary problems – job losses, benefit delays, health issues, work with unreliable hours etc.’

‘Although we are there mainly to help them with food parcels, we try to engage with our clients on other matters. Our experience is that the local agencies work well together, but we check that our clients haven’t slipped through the net regarding other help that could be out there for them.’

Raising Funds for the Trussell Trust

In association with the cyclists’ group from The Prince Albert

Oxford to Abingdon 11 miles

A swollen, turbid, fast flowing river; blackthorn blossom; osiers, rushes and willows half-drowned; many trees down with the recent storms. Flooded mediaeval water meadows; rain at twilight.

I had companions today, including a food bank volunteer for Stroud. Here are some observations from a weekly commitment:

'Stroud Foodbank has two outlets in Stroud town and a few others in the District. I help run the Nailsworth one. We don't have much demand, so we don't have weekly drop-in sessions in a centre. But, of course, there are some individuals in our little town who can benefit from what the Foodbank offers. They can contact the Foodbank office and obtain a voucher through the usual channels, and we arrange a Foodbank delivery to their home.'

'I volunteer at Stroud Foodbank on Fridays, usually this is the busiest session of the week. We never know who might turn up on the day. We have a wide range of customers. A few we see every now and then who have longer term issues, others are just one-offs, caught out by temporary problems - job losses, benefit delays, health issues, work with unreliable hours etc.'

'Although we are there mainly to help them with food parcels, we try to engage with our clients on other matters. Our experience is that the local agencies work well together, but we check that our clients haven't slipped through the net regarding other help that could be out there for them.'
read more

WALKING THE THAMES TO LONDON #5

Raising Funds for the Trussell Trust
In association with the cyclists’ group from The Prince Albert
Lechlade to Newbridge 16 miles

I walked past Shelley’s Close by the Church …

Where Shelley wrote his ‘Summer Evening Churchyard’,
Crossed the bridge and turned left for London,
It was just the sort of light I like for a riverine walk:
Waves of silver rippling through the dark waters,
Moody clouds above Old Father Thames’ statue,
Once of Crystal Palace, now recumbent at St John’s Lock –
But the nineteenth century was soon forgotten:
It all got a bit Mrs Miniver and Went the Day Well?
After Bloomer’s Hole footbridge:
I lost count of the pillboxes in the fields and on the banks
(‘Mr. Brown goes off to Town on the 8.21,
But he comes home each evening,
And he’s ready with his gun’),
As I walked on past Buscot, with its line of poplar trees,
Planted to drain the soil in its Victorian heyday of sugar beet
And once with a narrow gauge railway dancing across
A lost Saxon village at Eaton Hastings;
Then on past William Morris’ ‘heaven on earth’
At Kelmscott Manor (‘Visit our website to shop online!’),
Walkers occasionally appearing beyond hedgerows,
Like Edward Thomas’ ‘The Other Man’;
Then to Grafton Lock, and on to Radcot’s bridges and lock
(The waters divide here with two bridges:
The older, the site of a medieval battle after the Peasants’ Revolt;
A statue of the Virgin Mary once in a niche in the bridge, too,
Mutilated by the Levellers, before their Burford executions;
The newer bridge built in the hope and expectations
Of traffic and profit in the wake of the Thames and Severn Canal),
Past Old Man’s Bridge, Rushey Lock and Rushey Weir:
A traditional Thames paddle and rymer weir
(The paddles and handles, called rymers,
Dropped into position to block the rushing waters).
Now it’s on to isolated Tadpole Bridge on the Bampton turnpike,
Now past Chimney Meadow – once a Saxon island,
Then Tenfoot Bridge – characteristically,
Where an upper Thames flash weir sed to pour its waters,
Until Victorian modernity silenced that;
Then past Shifford Weir and the hamlet of Shifford,
Once a major Wessex town, where King Alfred
Met with his parliament of
‘Many bishops, and many book-learned.
Earls wise and Knights awful’.

Raising Funds for the Trussell Trust
In association with the cyclists’ group from The Prince Albert
Lechlade to Newbridge 16 miles

I walked past Shelley’s Close by the Church …

Where Shelley wrote his ‘Summer Evening Churchyard’,
Crossed the bridge and turned left for London,
It was just the sort of light I like for a riverine walk:
Waves of silver rippling through the dark waters,
Moody clouds above Old Father Thames’ statue,
Once of Crystal Palace, now recumbent at St John’s Lock –
But the nineteenth century was soon forgotten:
It all got a bit Mrs Miniver and Went the Day Well?
After Bloomer’s Hole footbridge:
I lost count of the pillboxes in the fields and on the banks
(‘Mr. Brown goes off to Town on the 8.21,
But he comes home each evening,
And he’s ready with his gun’),
As I walked on past Buscot, with its line of poplar trees,
Planted to drain the soil in its Victorian heyday of sugar beet
And once with a narrow gauge railway dancing across
A lost Saxon village at Eaton Hastings;
Then on past William Morris’ ‘heaven on earth’
At Kelmscott Manor (‘Visit our website to shop online!’),
Walkers occasionally appearing beyond hedgerows,
Like Edward Thomas’ ‘The Other Man’;
Then to Grafton Lock, and on to Radcot’s bridges and lock
(The waters divide here with two bridges:
The older, the site of a medieval battle after the Peasants’ Revolt;
A statue of the Virgin Mary once in a niche in the bridge, too,
Mutilated by the Levellers, before their Burford executions;
The newer bridge built in the hope and expectations
Of traffic and profit in the wake of the Thames and Severn Canal),
Past Old Man’s Bridge, Rushey Lock and Rushey Weir:
A traditional Thames paddle and rymer weir
(The paddles and handles, called rymers,
Dropped into position to block the rushing waters).
Now it’s on to isolated Tadpole Bridge on the Bampton turnpike,
Now past Chimney Meadow – once a Saxon island,
Then Tenfoot Bridge – characteristically,
Where an upper Thames flash weir sed to pour its waters,
Until Victorian modernity silenced that;
Then past Shifford Weir and the hamlet of Shifford,
Once a major Wessex town, where King Alfred
Met with his parliament of
‘Many bishops, and many book-learned.
Earls wise and Knights awful’.

read more

Some say Incompetent, Some say Criminal

Dominic Raab, knowing that a week is a long time in politics, has said that “Now is not the time to commit to an inquiry”.

He knows that the government’s actions and inaction have led to needless loss of life.

We believe that the government must answer for these deaths under the Corporate Manslaughter Act and are seeking to crowdfund a prosecution.

The link is here: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/keith-
butler?utm_term=9wxY78P9Z

The link will reveal the serious, principled and sequential structure to the
campaign.

The BBC and The Guardian have both been contacted today about this.

Keith Butler is assiduously, sedulously and forensically compiling a compelling dossier of evidence.

Please support financially if you can and/or by sharing this as widely as you can.

Dominic Raab, knowing that a week is a long time in politics, has said that “Now is not the time to commit to an inquiry”.

He knows that the government’s actions and inaction have led to needless loss of life.

We believe that the government must answer for these deaths under the Corporate Manslaughter Act and are seeking to crowdfund a prosecution.

The link is here: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/keith-
butler?utm_term=9wxY78P9Z

The link will reveal the serious, principled and sequential structure to the
campaign.

The BBC and The Guardian have both been contacted today about this.

Keith Butler is assiduously, sedulously and forensically compiling a compelling dossier of evidence.

Please support financially if you can and/or by sharing this as widely as you can.

read more

Virtual Walking

KEEP FIT WHEN SELF-ISOLATING by pretending to walk the Thames to London. Join me for a virtual walk and measure your steps inside your house. As many of you know, I have been walking the river piecemeal towards London to raise funds for the Trussell Trust and food banks. I’ve got as far as Wallingford in reality and have now walked to Tilehurst in a pretend way. Join me if you wish and I’ll let you know what you’ve seen along the river banks. The next stage is from Cholsey to Tilehurst which is about twelve miles.

It may be that you might want to send me a sentence or two about your ‘walk’ in exchange, as we build up a journal of this new plague year. The first two posts about walking from Stroud are up here – please see below.

I have reached the conclusion that individual, family and public health considerations mean that I will now walk the Thames in a virtual/pretend way.

How will I do this?

By laying out the route-map for the day and by measuring the required distance on my phone. I will walk within my home and within my immediate locality, but far from the madding crowd: 19 corvids rather COVID-19, as it were.

By using imagination and memory rather than observation. By following my usual practice of blending reflections on topographical, historical, and contemporary contexts, with the Trussell Trust and food banks always in focus.

By all virtual means, please join me.

KEEP FIT WHEN SELF-ISOLATING by pretending to walk the Thames to London. Join me for a virtual walk and measure your steps inside your house. As many of you know, I have been walking the river piecemeal towards London to raise funds for the Trussell Trust and food banks. I’ve got as far as Wallingford in reality and have now walked to Tilehurst in a pretend way. Join me if you wish and I’ll let you know what you’ve seen along the river banks. The next stage is from Cholsey to Tilehurst which is about twelve miles.

It may be that you might want to send me a sentence or two about your ‘walk’ in exchange, as we build up a journal of this new plague year. The first two posts about walking from Stroud are up here – please see below.

I have reached the conclusion that individual, family and public health considerations mean that I will now walk the Thames in a virtual/pretend way.

How will I do this?

By laying out the route-map for the day and by measuring the required distance on my phone. I will walk within my home and within my immediate locality, but far from the madding crowd: 19 corvids rather COVID-19, as it were.

By using imagination and memory rather than observation. By following my usual practice of blending reflections on topographical, historical, and contemporary contexts, with the Trussell Trust and food banks always in focus.

By all virtual means, please join me. read more

WALKING THE THAMES TO LONDON #2

Raising Funds for the Trussell Trust
In association with the cyclists’ group from The Prince Albert

So here I am walking from Walbridge in Stroud,
Along the Thames and Severn Canal,
To Trewsbury Mead and the source of the Thames,
The prologue to my pilgrimage
To the Celestial City.

Prologue: Wednesday, 5th February 2020 Stroud to Source

It’s a great walk down to Capel’s Mill from my house,
Past old ridge and furrow and tenterhook hedgerows,
Teazles here and there to raise your nap,
Imagining the patchwork quilt of fields of two centuries ago:
You pass an old oak sentinel to reach the River Frome,
Railway viaduct and canal-bridge close at hand,
And there is the dell that once was Capel’s Mill:
Trees clambering down the steep riverbank to shroud the waters,
The remains of the mill sluice quickening the river’s pulse,
Rusting iron work still visible,
The steady drip down from the railway arches,

The echo of the 1839 Miles Report:

The weavers are much distressed; they are wretchedly off in bedding; has seen many cases where the man and his wife and as many as 7 children have slept on straw, laid on the floor with only a torn quilt to cover them … children crying for food, and the parents having no money in the house, or work to obtain any; he has frequently given them money out of his own pocket to provide them with a breakfast …These men have a great dread of going to the Poor Houses, and live in constant hope that every day will bring them some work; witness has frequently told them they would be better in the (work)house, and their answer has been, ‘I would sooner starve.’

Raising Funds for the Trussell Trust
In association with the cyclists’ group from The Prince Albert

So here I am walking from Walbridge in Stroud,
Along the Thames and Severn Canal,
To Trewsbury Mead and the source of the Thames,
The prologue to my pilgrimage
To the Celestial City.

Prologue: Wednesday, 5th February 2020 Stroud to Source

It’s a great walk down to Capel’s Mill from my house,
Past old ridge and furrow and tenterhook hedgerows,
Teazles here and there to raise your nap,
Imagining the patchwork quilt of fields of two centuries ago:
You pass an old oak sentinel to reach the River Frome,
Railway viaduct and canal-bridge close at hand,
And there is the dell that once was Capel’s Mill:
Trees clambering down the steep riverbank to shroud the waters,
The remains of the mill sluice quickening the river’s pulse,
Rusting iron work still visible,
The steady drip down from the railway arches,

The echo of the 1839 Miles Report:

The weavers are much distressed; they are wretchedly off in bedding; has seen many cases where the man and his wife and as many as 7 children have slept on straw, laid on the floor with only a torn quilt to cover them … children crying for food, and the parents having no money in the house, or work to obtain any; he has frequently given them money out of his own pocket to provide them with a breakfast …These men have a great dread of going to the Poor Houses, and live in constant hope that every day will bring them some work; witness has frequently told them they would be better in the (work)house, and their answer has been, ‘I would sooner starve.’

read more

WALKING THE THAMES TO LONDON #1

Raising Funds for the Trussell Trust
In association with the cyclists group from The Prince Albert

I’m walking the Thames to London,
Not in linear sequence:
Flooding prevents that –
But in an act of near nominative determinism,
I present the famous words of Thomas Rainsborough,
From down by the river bank at the Church of St Mary the Virgin,
From the Civil War Putney Debates of 1647:
‘For really I think that the poorest … that is in England
Hath a life to live, as the greatest …’
What would Mr Rainsborough make of the need
For food banks, four hundred years later?

I’m not a great one for sponsorship,
Tbh,
My mantra is ‘Parity not Charity’:
I’m rather more of a supporter of tax,
Not regressive taxes such as VAT,
Where everyone pays the same,
Irrespective of income,
But progressive taxes such as income tax,
So as to redistribute wealth from the rich;
Oh, and another thing about charity:
I dislike the virtue-signalling,
And Americanisation
Of our society, with chuggers in the street,
And the incessant rattling of tins,
And that apparently self-validating cry:
‘Charidee!’

I do give, however, in a random way:
Domestic appeals, national appeals, international appeals,
Beggars in the streets,
Big Issue (not a charity),
Food banks …
Even though it’s a piecemeal patchwork,
Random and uncoordinated:
A personification of charity itself, I suppose …

So here I am in February 2020,
In the year of our Lord of Paupers’ Burials,
In the year of our Lord of Bet Fred,
In the year of our Lord of Universal Credit,
In the year of our Lord of Universal Cruelty,
In the year of our Lord of the Five Week Wait,
Pragmatically doing my bit
For the Trussell Trust,
Which, I think, also feels ambivalent
About its work – as its website says:
‘94% of people at food banks
Are in destitution.
This isn’t right.’

‘Destitution’, now there’s a throwback
To a Victorian lexicon:
‘Poverty so extreme that one lacks
the means to provide for oneself’.
Synonyms for destitution include:
Penury; privation; indigence;
Pauperdom; beggary; mendicancy –
Isn’t it interesting to notice,
How many of these synonyms
Seem like archaisms?
Our semantic field for poverty is reluctant
To acknowledge the impact of modernity:
Universal Credit, the gig economy,
Zero hours contracts and so on,
It likes to pretend that poverty is old hat,
Dickensian: Scrooge before redemption;

Raising Funds for the Trussell Trust
In association with the cyclists group from The Prince Albert

I'm walking the Thames to London,
Not in linear sequence:
Flooding prevents that -
But in an act of near nominative determinism,
I present the famous words of Thomas Rainsborough,
From down by the river bank at the Church of St Mary the Virgin,
From the Civil War Putney Debates of 1647:
‘For really I think that the poorest … that is in England
Hath a life to live, as the greatest …’
What would Mr Rainsborough make of the need
For food banks, four hundred years later?

I’m not a great one for sponsorship,
Tbh,
My mantra is ‘Parity not Charity’:
I’m rather more of a supporter of tax,
Not regressive taxes such as VAT,
Where everyone pays the same,
Irrespective of income,
But progressive taxes such as income tax,
So as to redistribute wealth from the rich;
Oh, and another thing about charity:
I dislike the virtue-signalling,
And Americanisation
Of our society, with chuggers in the street,
And the incessant rattling of tins,
And that apparently self-validating cry:
‘Charidee!’

I do give, however, in a random way:
Domestic appeals, national appeals, international appeals,
Beggars in the streets,
Big Issue (not a charity),
Food banks …
Even though it’s a piecemeal patchwork,
Random and uncoordinated:
A personification of charity itself, I suppose …

So here I am in February 2020,
In the year of our Lord of Paupers’ Burials,
In the year of our Lord of Bet Fred,
In the year of our Lord of Universal Credit,
In the year of our Lord of Universal Cruelty,
In the year of our Lord of the Five Week Wait,
Pragmatically doing my bit
For the Trussell Trust,
Which, I think, also feels ambivalent
About its work – as its website says:
‘94% of people at food banks
Are in destitution.
This isn’t right.’

‘Destitution’, now there’s a throwback
To a Victorian lexicon:
‘Poverty so extreme that one lacks
the means to provide for oneself’.
Synonyms for destitution include:
Penury; privation; indigence;
Pauperdom; beggary; mendicancy -
Isn’t it interesting to notice,
How many of these synonyms
Seem like archaisms?
Our semantic field for poverty is reluctant
To acknowledge the impact of modernity:
Universal Credit, the gig economy,
Zero hours contracts and so on,
It likes to pretend that poverty is old hat,
Dickensian: Scrooge before redemption;

read more

Radical Stroud Walks programme 2020

Some walks confirmed – others will have dates confirmed on this website – others more tentative – walkers may need to check social media etc or Good on Paper for precise details. After discussing it with Radical Stroud members, we can’t do Saturdays, I’m afraid.

Wednesday January 29th: A hidden colonial landscape – from the Archway arch to the blackboy clock in Nelson Street. Empire, imperialism, the nation-state of the UK then and now. Meet at the arch at 9.30.

Sunday February 23rd: Rodborough (see website)

MAY DAY Chalford to Stroud – how late 18th and 19th century national politics affected Stroud – Thelwall and Spence – green roots of socialism – the radical lessons of 1790-1820 for today, both in terms of state repression and radical responses. Stroud Labour Party May Festival MAY DAY

Some walks confirmed – others will have dates confirmed on this website – others more tentative – walkers may need to check social media etc or Good on Paper for precise details. After discussing it with Radical Stroud members, we can’t do Saturdays, I’m afraid.

Wednesday January 29th: A hidden colonial landscape - from the Archway arch to the blackboy clock in Nelson Street. Empire, imperialism, the nation-state of the UK then and now. Meet at the arch at 9.30.

Sunday February 23rd: Rodborough (see website)

MAY DAY Chalford to Stroud - how late 18th and 19th century national politics affected Stroud - Thelwall and Spence - green roots of socialism - the radical lessons of 1790-1820 for today, both in terms of state repression and radical responses. Stroud Labour Party May Festival MAY DAY read more

TOADSMOOR WALK

Friday 17th January 2020
Radical Stroud Walk

The Descent of the the Toadsmoor Valley:
From Bisley Church to Brimscombe Port
(and thence via the canal towpath to Stroud)

Approximately 4 miles. Mostly footpaths. Some styles and steep descents. Certain to be very muddy in places. Allow four hours. Bring food for your lunchtime repast. Optional stop for refreshments toward the end of the walk at Stroud Brewery

Directions to the start
Take the 8B bus from Stroud Merriwalks (stand k) at 10:10. Alight outside The Stirrup Cup, Bisley at 10:44 (scheduled arrival time). The walk will begin from this point at 10:50.

Brief guide to the context
This is not intended to be an exhaustive list. On our walks we typically encounter many serendipitous points of interest and discussion.
Bisley is very rich in history, tradition and legend. There are ancient barrows, and significant Roman and Saxon remains in the area. Many of the houses date from the 16th and 17 centuries. Made rich by the wool trade, Bisley suffered economic decline in the 1800s and in 1837, 68 parishioners were given support by the vicar of All Saints to emigrate to new lives in Australia. We will visit the church to discuss this historical event. We will also consider the story of The Bisley Boy (suggesting that Elizabeth 1st was not Elizabeth 1st but was a replaced by a man); the burial of John Davies “ye black” in 1603; the tradition of dressing the impressive wells of Bisley; how Bisley lost its commons and “who stole the donkey’s dinner”.

We will then descend the steep, narrow and seemingly remote Toadsmoor valley via footpaths. Maps reveal that the tree cover of once coppiced woodland in the upper valley has hardly changed in the last 200 years. However, the remains of several mills (of various types) are evident below the fishponds in the lower valley, revealing the industrial legacy of the area.

We will cross the main road at the mouth of the valley and walk past the site of many stick, umbrella and tool handle manufacturing works that occupied the valley floor from the 1850s until the 1920s. In nearby Chalford, one such “stick works”, Dangerford & Co, employed more than 1000 people during the late 1800s.

Finally, we will head west along the canal towpath, past Stroud Brewery and back to Stroud.

Texts used on the walk or written during and after the walk now follow

Friday 17th January 2020
Radical Stroud Walk

The Descent of the the Toadsmoor Valley:
From Bisley Church to Brimscombe Port
(and thence via the canal towpath to Stroud)

Approximately 4 miles. Mostly footpaths. Some styles and steep descents. Certain to be very muddy in places. Allow four hours. Bring food for your lunchtime repast. Optional stop for refreshments toward the end of the walk at Stroud Brewery

Directions to the start
Take the 8B bus from Stroud Merriwalks (stand k) at 10:10. Alight outside The Stirrup Cup, Bisley at 10:44 (scheduled arrival time). The walk will begin from this point at 10:50.

Brief guide to the context
This is not intended to be an exhaustive list. On our walks we typically encounter many serendipitous points of interest and discussion.
Bisley is very rich in history, tradition and legend. There are ancient barrows, and significant Roman and Saxon remains in the area. Many of the houses date from the 16th and 17 centuries. Made rich by the wool trade, Bisley suffered economic decline in the 1800s and in 1837, 68 parishioners were given support by the vicar of All Saints to emigrate to new lives in Australia. We will visit the church to discuss this historical event. We will also consider the story of The Bisley Boy (suggesting that Elizabeth 1st was not Elizabeth 1st but was a replaced by a man); the burial of John Davies “ye black” in 1603; the tradition of dressing the impressive wells of Bisley; how Bisley lost its commons and “who stole the donkey’s dinner”.

We will then descend the steep, narrow and seemingly remote Toadsmoor valley via footpaths. Maps reveal that the tree cover of once coppiced woodland in the upper valley has hardly changed in the last 200 years. However, the remains of several mills (of various types) are evident below the fishponds in the lower valley, revealing the industrial legacy of the area.

We will cross the main road at the mouth of the valley and walk past the site of many stick, umbrella and tool handle manufacturing works that occupied the valley floor from the 1850s until the 1920s. In nearby Chalford, one such “stick works”, Dangerford & Co, employed more than 1000 people during the late 1800s.

Finally, we will head west along the canal towpath, past Stroud Brewery and back to Stroud.

Texts used on the walk or written during and after the walk now follow read more

“Beating the Bounds” of Rodborough Parish

Radical Stroud
Terminalia Walking Festival
Sunday 23 rd February 2020

“Beating the Bounds” of Rodborough Parish

In honour of the Roman God of boundaries we will walk around the limits of the parish of Rodborough.

Parishes were once very important administrative areas and ceremonially walking the boundaries of a parish (known as “Beating the Bounds”) was a significant local custom in many places. Important boundary landmarks such as trees or stones would be ceremonially beaten with birch or willow rods. Sometimes young boys (typically choir boys) would also be ceremonially beaten at key places (supposedly to ensure that they would remember the parish boundaries!).

On this walk we intend to revive certain aspects of this custom for one day. Specifically, walking the boundary and beating key landmarks, but most definitely NOT beating young boys. As we progress there will be discussions and performative celebration of local matters, historical, political, industrial, cultural, geological, ecological and mythological. The boundary of Rodborough parish follows canals and disused railway lines, makes steep ascents and descents of beautiful Cotswold valleys and crosses the limestone grassland of an ancient common.

Radical Stroud
Terminalia Walking Festival
Sunday 23 rd February 2020

“Beating the Bounds” of Rodborough Parish

In honour of the Roman God of boundaries we will walk around the limits of the parish of Rodborough.

Parishes were once very important administrative areas and ceremonially walking the boundaries of a parish (known as “Beating the Bounds”) was a significant local custom in many places. Important boundary landmarks such as trees or stones would be ceremonially beaten with birch or willow rods. Sometimes young boys (typically choir boys) would also be ceremonially beaten at key places (supposedly to ensure that they would remember the parish boundaries!).

On this walk we intend to revive certain aspects of this custom for one day. Specifically, walking the boundary and beating key landmarks, but most definitely NOT beating young boys. As we progress there will be discussions and performative celebration of local matters, historical, political, industrial, cultural, geological, ecological and mythological. The boundary of Rodborough parish follows canals and disused railway lines, makes steep ascents and descents of beautiful Cotswold valleys and crosses the limestone grassland of an ancient common. read more

Liberal Democratic Fascism

When the Daily Express and the Daily Mail tried to control
The Prime Minister, Stanley Baldwin, back in the thirties,
He commented in his masculine way:
‘What the proprietorship of these newspapers is aiming at is power,
But power without responsibility,
The prerogative of the harlot throughout the ages.’
In the 2016 referendum,
We had Arron Banks:
‘Facts don’t work, and that’s it …
It just doesn’t work.
You have to connect with the people emotionally.
It’s the Trump success.’
And the General Elections of 2017 and 2019?
The Sun, Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, Daily Express,
With their slew of headlines,
Make it difficult not to think of John Heartfield,
And his Weimar agit-prop:
Big business pulling Hitler’s puppet strings;
Big business lavishing its money on Boris Johnson,
The Sun, Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, the Daily Express
Splashing their similar views all over their front pages;
The BBC doctoring Johnson’s footage and appearances.
A prime minister who holds parliament in contempt.
A leader who speaks of ‘the will of the people’.
A leader who has held the people in contempt.
A leader who has been economical with the truth.
A leader who will redraw constituency boundaries,
Who will lead, in effect, a one-party state,
In an alliance of ‘Elite and Mob’,
A re-run of William Pitt’s repressive policies,
And sponsored attacks on democrats in the 1790s.

I think this means that we now have a new category
Of political system for the text book:
A liberal-democratic 21 st century variant of Fascism:
Liberal-Democratic Fascism:
Not an oxymoron or a union of opposites,
But a subtle totalitarianism,
Authoritarianism in a suit.

When the Daily Express and the Daily Mail tried to control
The Prime Minister, Stanley Baldwin, back in the thirties,
He commented in his masculine way:
‘What the proprietorship of these newspapers is aiming at is power,
But power without responsibility,
The prerogative of the harlot throughout the ages.’
In the 2016 referendum,
We had Arron Banks:
‘Facts don’t work, and that’s it …
It just doesn’t work.
You have to connect with the people emotionally.
It’s the Trump success.’
And the General Elections of 2017 and 2019?
The Sun, Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, Daily Express,
With their slew of headlines,
Make it difficult not to think of John Heartfield,
And his Weimar agit-prop:
Big business pulling Hitler’s puppet strings;
Big business lavishing its money on Boris Johnson,
The Sun, Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, the Daily Express
Splashing their similar views all over their front pages;
The BBC doctoring Johnson’s footage and appearances.
A prime minister who holds parliament in contempt.
A leader who speaks of ‘the will of the people’.
A leader who has held the people in contempt.
A leader who has been economical with the truth.
A leader who will redraw constituency boundaries,
Who will lead, in effect, a one-party state,
In an alliance of ‘Elite and Mob’,
A re-run of William Pitt’s repressive policies,
And sponsored attacks on democrats in the 1790s.

I think this means that we now have a new category
Of political system for the text book:
A liberal-democratic 21 st century variant of Fascism:
Liberal-Democratic Fascism:
Not an oxymoron or a union of opposites,
But a subtle totalitarianism,
Authoritarianism in a suit.

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