Tag: England

Who will sing for England


I watched a documentary about The Proclaimers over the New Year. I take an interest in musicians and how they achieve success in the creative field. I’m not over-judgemental and try to find aspects to admire even if I don’t like the final product. Hence I can appreciate the clever construction of a song or piece of music which is not to my taste at all. I exclude the tuneless Bananarama from this. For those of you who do not know, The Proclaimers are a couple of identical Scottish twins who burst onto the scene with great energy (a must-have in my book) in the late 80s with their anthemic song “I’m gonna be”, which most will know better as “500 miles”. They arrived as something different in the music landscape, heavily influenced by punk, folk music and the musical political activism of Kevin Rowland of Dexys Midnight Runners (“Come on Eileen”.) They made a deliberate decision to sing in their broad Leith accents. In the documentary they came across as intelligent, articulate and rather dour, by no means an unwelcome attribute in these days of emotional incontinence. Talking heads were wheeled out to show that the band generated a strong Scottish fan base, not least by openly espousing the cause of Scottish independence. Krankie described how they had radicalised her and many of her generation. As we know, their intervention was not decisive on the 55:45 vote which, much like Brexit, apparently remains open to “interpretation”. Nevertheless, the twins produced a pivotal song called “Cap in Hand”. Here is the chorus:

But I can’t understand why we let someone else rule our land
We’re cap in hand.

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Gmbd, Class

Gmbd, Going Postal
“I look up to him because he is upper class, but I look down on him because he is lower class.”

Growing up in a working class family post war.

Let’s try to imagine.

The State made your parents go to war and risk their lives to defend the state.
Doubtless most would have done that anyway without the conscription but you cannot argue with the State.

To fight for what ?
Freedom from tyrany ?
Protect the lives of family and friends and acquaintances.
Identifying with “This England” just because.

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Labour and the Destruction of Educational Diversity

Jwp, Going Postal

“If it’s the last thing I do, I’m going to destroy every fucking grammar school in England. And Wales. And Northern Ireland.” (Crosland is so quoted by his wife Susan Crosland in her biography, Tony Crosland (Jonathan Cape, 1982), p. 148.)

In 1968 I passed the 11+ exam. I was the first ever and since to have done so in my family. Coming from a long line of Dock Workers it was hailed as something marvellous in my family, to the point of embarrassment. What will he become, a doctor, a teacher, a scientist? My best friend from across the street didn’t pass and yet, contrary to all that was said about selection breeding divisions in society, my friend and I have remained best pals for a lifetime. Our educational paths diverged. Our affections did not.

Perhaps I am fortunate in having experienced both Grammar and Comprehensive systems. I enjoyed two years of Grammar School followed by four years of Comprehensive. Thanks to those Educational Iconoclasts, Antony Crosland and Shirley Williams, the Burke and Hare of Schools, my Grammar went Comp in 1971. A school of 260 boys was merged with a Secondary Modern of 750, and the small and nifty frigate became an unwieldy aircraft carrier, impersonal, unmanageable, inhomogeneous and most importantly of all unBritish.

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Postcard from the Fens

Occasionally I will find something unusual or seemingly out of place that piques my interest. I may not even think about it until sometime later, but I’ll find myself diving into the web to discover the origins of what I saw, or just why the hell it’s there. Sometimes such a search will uncover much more than I had anticipated.

A stone’s throw from my home is a local nature reserve and wood where I will go for walks with the family, a chance for my children to find sticks, kick through the leaves or jump in muddy puddles (or be told off for trying to!). On one such walk we happened upon a pair of iron columns. My wife commented that they were like the lamp post in Narnia – in the middle of the wood and completely out of place, only without the lamp.

EntitledSnowFlake, Going Postal
The Holme Fen Posts

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Postcard from the Lake District, No 2

A long Weekend in the Lake District, Part One

For those of you that don’t read the comments, or the articles, I live in the northern part of The Lake District. It goes without saying that it is a beautiful part of Britain. Some would say the most beautiful but I wouldn’t be so presumptuous. I thought it might be nice to pretend I was a visitor and construct a long weekend, specifically a late October one, which others might enjoy indulging in.

Coloniescross, Going Postal
Penny Rock Wood from the Mere side

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Postcard from Northumberland, No 3

Coloniescross, Going Postal
The Gates to the Poison Garden

As some of you might recall Mrs Cross and I have recently celebrated out 40th wedding anniversary. My lady wife had the idea that we should do forty things together, over the next 12 months, by way of marking this momentous event. One of the things on the list was a return to Northumberland, following our anniversary weekend glamping, this time to visit the coast and some of the castles.

First stop for any self respecting Postallier on a visit to the North East is Barter Books in Alnwick, I bought a couple of crime novels, a couple of books about American Indians, including a copy of “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee” and then, getting caught up in the moment I paid £18 for a copy of 1985.

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Postcard from Combe Martin and Ilfracombe

Pttm, Going Postal
For about 10 years now my wife and I an our now 12-year-old son, several older children, and countless grandchildren, come down to the John Fowler holiday camp in Combe Martin, in North Devon, we always stay in a mobile home/caravan thingy.  For those not aware, John Fowler holiday parks are much more peaceful and quiet than “In your face Butlins”.  There are two sites here, the lower one is very hilly, best one is called Sandaway.  They also have a site in Ilfracombe. Proper hotels and other camp sites are here as well.

Due to the narrowness of the valley, the village consists principally of one single long street which runs 2 miles (3.2 km) between the Valley Head the sea, it is a myth it is one of the longest high streets in the UK, but we never like to let facts spoil the story.  Anyway, I like a nice long thin one.


Postcard from the Lake District

Coloniescross, Going Postal
Rydal Water

There is only one lake in the Lake District, not everyone knows that.

As part of the ongoing 40 things to do when you’ve been married for forty years we took the opportunity of a fine autumn day to visit Rydal Water. Rydal is a smallish “lake” nestling between Grasmere and Ambleside. It is a lovely place and offers a couple of walks around its shore. The one we chose gives a view of the water for about 80% of the time.

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Trip to a museum

We awoke early morning on Saturday 9th of September in the garden of England, Kent specifically. Mrs poofta went to put the kettle on, sighed and said ‘we’re out of gas’. Ok then, out came the laptop and Google mapped caravan/motorhome outlets and found one in Folkestone, off we set following our satnav heading south from Margate. On passing through Hawkinge I noticed a Battle of Britain museum sign and decided on the roundabout to go take a look. Walking into to the entrance to the building we noticed signs everywhere saying no cameras or mobile phones allowed, when I inquired as to why, it was because of thefts. I was gobsmacked, what scum we have in this world today.

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3rd September – a Special Remembrance

1642again, Going Postal
Cromwell at the Battle of Dunbar, 3rd September 1650

Today is the 3rd September, a memorable day, a historic day, a day worthy of remembrance. Bear with me for a few minutes. A special day for me. A day remarked on by people at the time, a day that gave rise to long lived folk tales, a day special in the history of this country, a day that not all in this country of ours have forgotten. Indeed, a ceremony will be held today by some true believers beside a statue in the precinct of Parliament as it is every year on this day. I’ll explain why I’m one of them.

In the early hours of 3rd September, 1650, the English Parliamentary Army was surrounded and heavily numbered, its back against the sea at Dunbar in Scotland, trapped by a large and well generalled Royalist Scottish army. Disease was taking its toll on the English invaders, dispatched by a Parliament determined to launch a pre-emptive strike on a Scotland that had proclaimed Charles II as king on the execution of his father with the express intention of restoring him to the English throne.

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