Coleridge, Potter & King Pocky

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

In the 1720s, when Daniel Defoe, in his A Tour Through the Whole Island of Great Britain, came to the ‘unpassable hills’ of Westmorland, he concluded that ‘all the pleasant part of England was at an end’. To him and his contemporaries mountains were ‘horrid’, being uncultivable, cold and likely to drop rocks on you. […]

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Flying The Red Flag

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

Old Labour took pride in its history and the legends surrounding ‘This Great Movement of Ours’. In its heartlands, generations treasured what the French call lieux de mémoire, their sites of memory. It was an often sentimental tradition – heroes like Hardie, Lansbury or Bevan, crises like Taff Vale or Tonypandy, triumphs like 1945, occasional […]

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A Difficult Country

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

In 1948, W H Auden wrote of Britain as:  A backward And dilapidated province, connected To the big busy world by a tunnel, with a certain Seedy appeal  Such a perspective seemed even more appropriate in the 1970s, and in 1974 the Foreign Secretary, James Callaghan, confessed that ‘sometimes when I go to bed at […]

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