Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Lets not play it too safe

15/4/12 (Titanic Day) There is something hubricious and unpleasant about this constant quest for public safety, something conformist and controlling – not really for our good at all. This Easter I took a friend to see some of the Civil War sites near my mother’s home in Staffordshire. Chief among them is of course Boscobel House and the oak tree where Charles Stuart hid from the Cromwellians in 1651. I have been visiting this tree since I was very young. You take a long path through fields up to the old tree, a daughter of the original, stands behind narrow iron railings close to the trunk. Behind is a spectacular view of Wenlock Edge and the Clee Hills. Not any more – some worthy soul from English Heritage has decided to put a white picket fence all round the site so you can no longer get up close to the Royal Oak. After Charles got his throne back and he told the story of his uncomfortable night up the tree, eager tourists visited Boscobel and tore lumps off it for souvenirs. At that time a low brick wall was placed around it to protect the tree – but this new fence, all the away up to the farm fence, so you can’t get under it, has been erected to protect us, in case one of the two remaining branches should fall on anyone’s head.

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