Thursday, 25 June 2009

Adieu to Old England?

As if the world had ended when I had been young
My sorrows I'd never had known

When Flossie Lane passed away earlier this month a little piece of Old England left with her. Miss Lane had run the Sun Inn at Leintwardine on the Hereford/Shropshire border for 74 years. The Sun is one of only a handful of Parlour pubs left in England, although its future looks uncertain now that Miss Lane is gone. Parlour pubs are hostelries with no bar or till and the beer is poured from the barrel in the kitchen or other room and taken through to the customer out front.

Your author remembers fondly as a teenager visiting such an establishment - the Dun Cow at Northmoor, Oxfordshire (now gone) - and can recall the near intoxicating effect not so much of its beer, but of its identity, heritage and history. Parlour pubs and the characters that run and use them are part and parcel of the English collective folk memory and our shared national story. In a world of transience and flux, Miss Lane and her life represent place, purpose, roots and certainty. RIP Flossie.

They let him stand till the long Midsummer
Till he looked both pale and wan

We reached Midsummer's Day yesterday, still marked across Northern Europe by bonfires. It was also the Feast of St John the Baptist and also one of the Quarter Days - when hands were hired and debts were paid. Our national calendar, like so much else that was ours, is being buried under rootless modernity. The more we let this happen the more we become like synthetic ghosts in the plastic world promoted and beloved of our old friends those 'Citizens of the World'. How to fight back? ...Just remember

Those inspirational British Wildcats have been at it again and Berrocscir's Banner still backs them to the hilt - no ifs, no buts, as should all opponents of neoliberalism and globalisation. It's heartening to see the Union leadership being forced into action by the rank & file and hopefully a more tribalistic strain of worker empowerment can come out of this in stark contrast to the culturally Marxist formations most English workers are offered