Month: July 2016

Checking Out the River Wye


River Wye at Hay-on-Wye

Another research trip recently found me tracing the course of the river Wye. For part of its length, the river marks the border between England and Wales, so it’s loaded with historical resonance. The tranquil scenes today belie events of times past.

I made this trip to do some final checks before the Temple Scroll goes live. Just as well I did. I came across a small but material change in the appearance of one scene – sorted it with an appropriate tweak once I got home.

Clearly, if something in the physical world changes after publication, that’s beyond anyone’s control, but it’s good to make sure things are as they should be at the outset.

I started at Hay-on-Wye. As a writer, it seemed an appropriate place to start. For this part of the trip, I think I had got my scheduling about right. The Hay Festival had finished a couple of weeks previously and the influx of summer visitors were yet to arrive in any great numbers. So it was perfect for wandering around and taking in the town.

Hay-on-Wye, quiet street

Hay-on-Wye, quiet street

From Hay I moved downstream, taking in a range of locations. I spent a bit of time in Hereford, which gave me time for a visit to the Cider Museum, it’s the natural place to find a cider museum – Hereford’s the home of Bulmer’s Cider. Then, before crossing the river and continuing my journey south, I paid a visit to Hereford Cathedral, a building that has always impressed me – more about this on another occasion.

Hereford Cathedral

Hereford Cathedral

Once out of Hereford, I followed the Wye all the way downstream to Chepstow, where it joins the River Severn. I’m avoiding adding too much detail at this point since I don’t want to give anything away and spoil the story.

Chepstow Castle

Chepstow Castle

Check out the riverbanks; the grey brown mud highlights the tidal range here, which is enormous. Of course, the Wye’s feeding into the Severn estuary, which is reputed to have the second highest tidal range in the world – way over forty feet. It’s very impressive.

Sufficient to say, things were as I had last seen them and after a day of nosing about, I happily moved on.

It was at Bristol where I found the item that necessitated an adjustment to the script. It was just a little thing, a minor difference in my understanding of the traffic routing – but it influenced how events played out in the Temple Scroll so I was pleased to catch the snag. And hats off to Bristol, they have managed to do a great job of revitalising the old docks. It’s a really vibrant place and a pleasure to visit day or night. Thanks too, to the guys at the London Camera Exchange in Baldwin Street – they sorted out my camera problem with the minimum fuss and maximum efficiency.

Then it was on to Bristol Airport, and home.


Horns of a Dilemma

Ouch, whatever side you came down on in the referendum, seems it’s going to hurt a bit anyway.

Long horned bull, standing - Tanzania

Long horned bull, standing – Tanzania

Before the referendum, we all thought carefully, read, and listened. In the end, with all the counterarguments, it just boiled down to picking your points and personal instinct.

But hats off to our ruling elite, they contrived to be leading both sides, so no matter what, collectively, they’ll be okay. And if things go bad, our elite knows to blame us ordinary folk for making the wrong choice – if it goes well, then hey, they told us to do that too; they win again.

Throughout history, every successful society has had an elite; I can accept that. While I don’t aspire to belong to it, I can live with its existence if it contributes to a more stable society for everyone. Similarly, I don’t mind people being rich. But being rich or being the offspring of the rich is no reason to have influence over how my or anyone else’s life is run. Attaining positions of leadership should be based only on ability, integrity, and a desire to deliver the best for the population.

Our elite have overseen the development of a completely unbalanced economy. They have overseen the evolution of a tax system that ensures ordinary folk pay while others don’t. They have failed to link up strategic plans across key aspects of the country’s activity. We have an unjust justice system. They even failed to challenge the weaker aspects of Europe while in a position to do so – like the sclerotic and inadequate rules that allowed Volkswagen to make fools of us all. And of course, our elite have provided a home for the worst aspects and practices of free market global finance.
In or out was an important decision. But the recent furore has masked the other important decision we face: what kind of country do we want?

Do we meekly accept more of the same? Following whatever route our less than stellar leaders now map for us. Or do we demand that the inevitable shake up Brexit brings is used as the opportunity to implement a fair society for everyone? A fair tax system, honest financial systems, fair treatment of people, properly supported health and welfare services, honest business regulations and appropriately severe sanctions against those who seek to exploit us.

In a quiet way, I’m proud of my country. I want it to succeed regardless of the in or out decision and whatever international trading arrangements we end up with. But more than anything else, I want to live in a country that is honest, fair and principled.

Looking at the horns again, perhaps this next decision is not going to be quite such a dilemma after all. Regardless of in or out, I’m for demanding integrity of our leaders and for national strategies that serve the people fairly, first and last.

Long horned bull, sitting - Tanzania

Long horned bull, sitting – Tanzania

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