Digging Up The Past for the Sake of June 8th


Margaret Thatcher – thanks to Pink News

Just to remind folk who are discussing how things were back in the ’70s, here’s Margaret Thatcher’s statement in her first manifesto, it sums up how things were. So have we succeeded in the project? Will we be able to re-new the project?

“THIS ELECTION is about the future of Britain – a great country which seems to have lost its way. It is a country rich in natural resources, in coal, oil, gas and fertile farmlands. It is rich, too, in human resources, with professional and managerial skills of the highest calibre, with great industries and firms whose workers can be the equal of any in the world We are the inheritors of a long tradition of parliamentary democracy and the rule of law.

Yet today, this country is faced with its most serious problems since the Second World War. What has happened to our country, to the values we used to share, to the success and prosperity we once took for granted?

During the industrial strife of last winter, confidence, self-respect, common sense, and even our sense of common humanity were shaken. At times this society seemed on the brink of disintegration.

Some of the reasons for our difficulties today are complex and go back many years. Others are more simple and more recent. We do not lay all the blame on the Labour Party: but Labour have been in power for most of the last fifteen years and cannot escape the major responsibility.

They have made things worse in three ways. First, by practising the politics of envy and by actively discouraging the creation of wealth, they have set one group against another in an often bitter struggle to gain a larger share of a weak economy.

Second, by enlarging the role of the State and diminishing the role of the individual, they have crippled the enterprise and effort on which a prosperous country with improving social services depends.

Third, by heaping privilege without responsibility on the trade unions, Labour have given a minority of extremists the power to abuse individual liberties and to thwart Britain’s chances of success. One result is that the trade union movement, which sprang from a deep and genuine fellow-feeling for the brotherhood of man, is today more distrusted and feared than ever before.

It is not just that Labour have governed Britain badly. They have reached a dead-end. The very nature of their Party now prevents them from governing successfully in a free society and mixed economy.

Divided against themselves; devoid of any policies except those which have led to and would worsen our present troubles; bound inescapably by ties of history, political dogma and financial dependence to a single powerful interest group, Labour have demonstrated yet again that they cannot speak and dare not act for the nation as a whole.

Our country’s relative decline is not inevitable. We in the Conservative Party think we can reverse it, not because we think we have all the answers but because we think we have the one answer that matters most. We want to work with the grain of human nature, helping people to help themselves – and others. This is the way to restore that self-reliance and self-confidence which are the basis of personal responsibility and national success.

Attempting to do too much, politicians have failed to do those things which should be done. This has damaged the country and the authority of government. We must concentrate on what should be the priorities for any government. They are set out in this manifesto.

Those who look in these pages for lavish promises or detailed commitments on every subject will look in vain. We may be able to do more in the next five years than we indicate here. We believe we can. But the Conservative government’s first job will be to rebuild our economy and reunite a divided and disillusioned people.”

Blackbird sings at the break of day

                    Blackbird (RSPB image)


Hopefully, you will all have noticed how the population of blackbirds in Wye has been increasing year on year. We have shared some recordings of these wonderful songsters. Monday afternoon Radio 3 broadcast from Hay-on-Wye book festival and included poetry along with bird-song. It reminded us that our own shepherd poet, Thomas Post, also wrote a poem about the blackbird.

The Blackbird -Thomas Post


From The Horse’s Mouth – EU Demands for Brexit


Another medium-term issue facing us is what conditions any incoming government will have have to face from the EU. The European Union Commission is running the show for the 27 – we all recognise that it is the unelected commissioners who both write the plays, create the puppets and pull the strings – no surprise then that they have issued two documents that lay out what they demand the UK settles first. Firstly the rights of EU and UK citizens living either in the UK or among the 27. The second concerns the ‘divorce settlement’. The latter to be paid in euros. Barnier has been warning MEPs to ensure that their domestic governments do not ‘let the UK get away with anything’. For your edification, we make these two documents available here.


     Adapting to the EU


My Heart Is Inditing – Wye Church is host to The Caritas Chamber Choir and Caritas Sinfonia


Wye has long been associated with both the rule of kings and the role of the church. We are also fortunate to have living amongst us many musicians and lovers of music. Partly that is due to the wise tutelage of  Dr Mark Deller of the child members of the Wye Church Choir. Partly it is because we have attracted residents such as Matthew King and they have demonstrated, not only their love of music but also, by example, the joy of its accomplishment. It was no surprise then to see advertised the concert performed by The Caritas Chamber Choir and their accompanists- The Caritas Sinfonia. However, what was a surprise was the outstanding rendering of a program of music for members of the British Monarchy. Mainly the pieces were from Coronation Anthems written by George Frederik Handel but also from Henry Purcell, John Tavener and Paul Mealor.

The names of the performers, as well as details of the programme, can be seen in the accompanying images and, of great benefit was the page giving the texts of each piece.

The Programme
The Texts



It would be invidious to mark out any of the performers since in true merit of music the whole was greater than the sum of the parts, however, mention must be made of their conductor, Benedict Preece. Clearly, Benedict has more than a little Welsh choral blood coursing through his veins, but it is also a mark of the quality of his training, education and devotion that this young man (only 25 years of age) demonstrated qualities far in excess of his age. I think that we shall see and hear more, much more of Benedict. For those who were unable or forsook the  opportunity of hearing the performance in Wye Church, which was packed anyway, I can give you two parts of the performance:








Bee Health in Jeopardy?

                       Infected Bee?

Several years ago we reported and discussed the importance of a healthy bee population. Last year there were noises off left that suggested that the parasite that seemed to be responsible for so many deaths had been identified and methods of dealing with it established. I had got used to taking videos of bees that seemed to be lost, grounded and moving aimlessly in circles. Today I found another possible victim. It would be reassuring from local specialists that, indeed, this danger is past and that what I saw was an injured bee.

OK, so laugh a little!

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1. “They should not allow topless sunbathing on the beach. It was very distracting for my husband who just wanted to relax.”
2. “On my holiday to Goa in India, I was disgusted to find that almost every restaurant served curry. I don’t like spicy food.”
3. “We went on holiday to Spain and had a problem with the taxi drivers as they were all Spanish.”
4. “We booked an excursion to a water park but no-one told us we had to bring our own swimsuits and towels. We assumed it would be included in the price.”
5. “The beach was too sandy. We had to clean everything when we returned to our room.”
6. “We found the sand was not like the sand in the brochure. Your brochure shows the sand as white but it was more yellow.”
7. “It’s lazy of the local shopkeepers in Puerto Vallartato close in the afternoons. I often needed to buy things during ‘siesta’ time — this should be banned.”
8. “No-one told us there would be fish in the water. The children were scared.”
9. “Although the brochure said that there was a fully equipped kitchen, there was no egg-slicer in the drawers.”
10. “I think it should be explained in the brochure that the local convenience store does not sell proper biscuits like custard creams or ginger nuts.”
11. “The roads were uneven and bumpy, so we could not read the local guide book during the bus ride to the resort. Because of this, we were unaware of many things that would have made our holiday more fun.”
12. “It took us nine hours to fly home from Jamaica to England. It took the Americans only three hours to get home. This seems unfair.”
13. “I compared the size of our one-bedroom suite to our friends’ three-bedroom and ours was significantly smaller.”
14. “The brochure stated: ‘No hairdressers at the resort.’ We’re trainee hairdressers and we think they knew and made us wait longer for service.”
15. “When we were in Spain, there were too many Spanish people there. The receptionist spoke Spanish, the food was Spanish. No one told us that there would be so many foreigners.”
16. “We had to line up outside to catch the boat and there was no air-conditioning.”
17. “It is your duty as a tour operator to advise us of noisy or unruly guests before we travel.”
18. “I was bitten by a mosquito. The brochure did not mention mosquitoes.”
19. “My fiancée and I requested twin-beds when we booked, but instead we were placed in a room with a king bed. We now hold you responsible and want to be re-reimbursed for the fact that I became pregnant. This would not have happened if you had put us in the room that we booked.”

Thanks Again Bob

Is there a Conspiracy of Silence?

Social media, not unsurprisingly, has been distressed by the Manchester bombing outrage. However, there seems to be a strange, but a not unfamiliar division of attitudes. There are comments that blame the police and intelligence for not acting sooner and there are those that blame society for not integrating minority groups more successfully.

Now it may be that the comments I pick up are biased but I find the lack of criticism of the perpetrators and the origin of their creed frightening. Is it because of our media and, more importantly, repressive laws that prevent us discussing, describing, disagreeing publically about real divisions in British society?   Have we forgotten so quickly the struggle that has generated our tolerance and openness to ideas that are unpalatable? Did we have to wait for the occupation of the Sudetenland and the invasion of Poland to start publically criticising Hitler and the Nazis that he generated?

Last Thursday on BBC 2’s Question Time during a tense debate about how extreme acts could be thwarted a young Muslim woman said this-

“First of all, I would like to say that my thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. I’m a British Muslim and I’m very proud of my heritage. And there is an elephant in the room here. And unfortunately, it is very unfortunate, there is an issue with regards to radicalisation and extremism that does exist. That is something that we have to accept. I would like to go back to what the gentleman over there was saying when he referenced a mosque.(Editor:The Didsbury Mosque, in Manchester) Yes, we do have an issue within our mosques. We have children being taught the Wahhabi interpretation of the Koran. We have Saudi-trained clerics coming in and speaking I would say, for now, temporarily, close down all Saudi-finance mosques. And I myself speak as a Muslim. I am a Muslim. Not only do we have our own home-grown terrorists, but terrorism is also being imported right under our noses.”

The man referred to had picked up at a Didsbury Mosque literature that he read out declared that Western and UK society was offensive.

A Muslim woman from the Didsbury Mosque replied: “There are no Saudi-funded mosques in the UK. There used to be money that was brought in from abroad but that has all stopped a long time ago.”

Later members of the Didsbury Mosque stated that this literature was not produced by them but by others who attended the mosque and left the literature.

With this confusion is it any wonder that non-Muslim citizens are sceptical about the realities of living as a British Muslim?


How Important Is Freedom of Expression?

In November 2012 we offered this article to stimulate discussion about an important assumption of our democracy. As time has passed and terrorist outrage once more stalks our streets should we put more effort into defining and defending our freedom of speech? Freedom of speech is restricted by perceptions of abuse and hatred but have those restrictions gone too far? Are some groups taking unfair advantage of our tolerance? What do you think?

When we asked after the health of democracy in Wye we might have very well asked about the instruments that ensure its vitality. One of the principal insurances of democracy is the freedom of expression – of which freedom of speech is one aspect – and, like apple pie we all agree that it is good. However, and this is where the trouble begins, we all have reservations and surround our support with caveats. The main caveat is that we should not exhort others to kill and murder – that seems right and in a democratic society we leave decisions about death and killing to our democratic representatives. That seems tautological. If democracy has an insurance against tyranny in the freedom of expression how can we achieve democracy without full freedom of expression? That, even without an extreme example, is a problem. We walk on eggshells when it comes to race and religion and those issues are, as ever, major causes of conflict and a threat to security. The other no-go area is that of privacy of the individual, for which our laws against libel and scandal act as reasonable bulwarks. Reasonable, that is, until they become protections for unacceptable abuse of power and what kind of abuse can we cover up under the cloak of private life?

As Lord Justice Leveson issues his findings on the press and its regulation it will not only be the newspapers that will show concern over the future of the sixth estate – new citizen journalism is already a sufficient thorn in the side of the powerful that it’s censorship is only just around the corner. One only has to run a local website for a few months to experience the reactions to open debate.

BBC: Viewpoints: Should the press be regulated? http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/20466955

Make the fields bloom

Skylark Meadow has been a remarkable balm to the eyes over this past week. Beneath what have been cloudy skies, Martin with his love of natural, rather than artificial, management of the quality of his soil has performed a piece of magic. He has bound the nitrogen to the soil with a mixture of flowering plants that generate, not only beauty but a wonderful aroma. We cannot reproduce the latter but here are a few images of the flowers.














For those who will miss this year’s show Martin is already planting for next year; Thank you, Martin!

An industrial Macy-Ferguson circa 1958 still going strong! (So Martin tells me.)


Don’t you just love them!

Donald Trump met with the Queen of England, and he asked her, “Your Majesty, how do you run such an efficient government? Are there any tips you could give me?”

“Well,” replied the Queen, “the most important thing is to surround yourself with intelligent people.”

Trump frowned, and then asked, “But how do I know the people around me are really intelligent?”

The Queen took a sip of tea. “Oh, that’s easy; you just ask them to answer an intelligent riddle.”

The Queen pushed a button on her intercom. “Please send Theresa May in here, would you?”

Theresa May walked into the room and said, “Yes, Your Majesty?”

The Queen smiled and said, “Answer me this, if you would, Theresa. Your mother and father have a child. It is not your brother and it is not your sister. Who is it?”

Without pausing for a moment, Theresa May answered, “That would be me.”

“Yes! Very good,” said the Queen.

Trump went back home to ask Mike Pence the same question. “ Mike, answer this for me. Your mother and your father have a child. It’s not your brother and it’s not your sister. Who is it?”

“I’m not sure,” said Pence. “Let me get back to you on that one.” He went to his advisors and asked everyone, but none could give him an answer.

Finally, Pence ran into Sarah Palin in a restaurant the next night. Pence asked, “Sarah, can you answer this for me? Your mother and father have a child and it’s not your brother or your sister. Who is it?”

Sarah Palin answered right back, “That’s easy, it’s me!”

Pence smiled, and said, “Thanks!” Pence then, went back to speak with Trump. “Say, I did some research and I have the answer to that riddle. It’s Sarah Palin!”

Trump got up, stomped over to Pence, and angrily yelled, “No, you idiot! it’s Theresa May!”

Thanks to critterman