My 'positive' posting this week: I have been in Shropshire for a few days, and it was so nice, particularly at this time of year, to be somewhere that really felt like England, and Britain, as I once knew it. I was in Shrewsbury yesterday afternoon, strolling around, and it struck me again what a pleasant town it is – nice old churches, an Abbey, a castle, ancient timbered houses, genuine, old-fashioned tea-shops (instead of endless ubiquitous Starbucks and Cafe Nero's, etc.), a nice Victorian railway station where you can get trains to all sorts of places, a good local market, good old-fashioned schools, the river Severn with lovely meadows and gardens by it; and mostly fairly decent, well-behaved, good-natured, recognisably British people, talking English and behaving in culturally comprehensible ways, everywhere. I actually felt at home again, for once, and found myself wishing I could live there. Ok – nowhere is perfect, and I daresay Shropshire has its share of social and other problems (in fact I know it does), but it's nice to reminded that England, as I understand it, still exists, out there, if you only know where to look. Unfortunately of course it only makes the contrast of Oxford, let alone London, all the more glaring.
There’ll always be an England (perhaps)