Ed Lines – August 31, 2018

Ed Lines – August 31, 2018

MRS L and I snagged our first few days off work together this year. What’s that about taking more time to relax and enjoy your autumn years?

We didn’t have long enough to go sun-seeking abroad so I suggested we visit her parents’ grave, under an old oak tree in a little village churchyard in Somerset.

“It must be five or six years since you last saw them,” I said.

“We can stop off in Oxfordshire and visit Alison and Clive,” she replied. “We haven’t seen them in a few years either.”

Five or six years? Try 12, on both counts. Talk about time flying as you get older. Someone’s given it a jet engine and a serving of Captain Kirk’s warp speed for good measure.

I’m not trying to be overly maudlin today, but combined with a holiday centred around cleaning up a grave, I bade farewell to another rugby pal of my age this week. That’s four in the last six months.

What do you reckon – cancer? Heart attack? 

He let a lower leg infection fester, and being ‘a bloke’ thought it would sort itself out. 

Sepsis set in, and as the medics fought a belated but ultimately losing battle, his body shut down.

Driving across the gorgeous Cotswolds yesterday, and writing this in the picture postcard village of Monksilver, at the foot of Exmoor and looking across to the Quantocks, you can’t help but be reflective.

I’ve just been emailed Elyas Patel’s reply to the serve and volley we exchanged last week. 

He’ll no doubt be gobsmacked to see that ‘evil’ Locky is letting him have the last word. There’s little to be gained from backwarding and forwarding, where one party just artfully avoids the subject.

But that whole thorny issue of cultural change – of wholesale demographic replacement where Dewsbury and Batley are concerned – is never far away when you travel our sceptred isles.

Yesterday afternoon we drove up to Watchet, a small harbour town on the Severn estuary, founded and fortified by Alfred the Great.

The Saxons had a mint at Watchet, whose coins have been found as far afield as Scandinavia – the locals used them to buy off Viking raiders. 

Lest we forget, foreign supplanting of native Britons used to involve rather more violent methods than a woman’s face veil and a holy book – or indeed the bureaucratic bullying of the all-powerful EU Commission. 

The Romans, Vikings and William the Conqueror’s Normans were in too much of a hurry to rely on either breeding or undemocratically legislating their way to power over our island nation.

Monksilver’s All Saints Church, not 50 yards from where I’m writing this, is where Sir Francis Drake married his second wife Elizabeth Sydenham in 1583.

She must have prayed for his safety five years later when he was busy seeing off the Spanish Armada. 

Fortunately our man won, thus ensuring I was eating locally-bred fillet of beef last night in the Notley Arms, and not paella.

You could say the same for bratwurst in 1945, frogs’ legs in 2016 and, casting forward a generation or two, tikka masala.

I’d like to think we can all metaphorically enjoy each other’s culinary delights, but sadly history tells us that society – mankind – never evolves that way.

I doubt that the England-hating Momentum fanatics could wander our wonderful highways and byways without seeing something to envy or loathe; a statue that needs pulling down and smashing because it represents something they can only fear and despise, instead of understand and respect.

Sadly, I’m not sure it’s in my generation’s gift to completely withstand that tide, not forever.

But in my small way, with my patriotic flag in the sand, I’ll keep singing England’s praises all the way to my eventual grave.

This is a wonderful, wonderful, green and pleasant land.


CONSIDERING the main gist of today’s Ed Lines, it’s ironic that conflict at sea was in the news this week, with French trawlers ganging up on and attacking English fishermen going lawfully about their business. 

History tells us that only ends one way, and not well for our erstwhile cousins across the Channel.

The nearby town of Watchet was also the inspiration for Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s most famous poem, Rime of the Ancient Mariner – he lived nearby. 

And if you really want to see fate stretch its hands across the ages, Coleridge penned the first lines to Ancient Mariner in the local Bell Inn, where he used to sup with another lauded poet, William Wordsworth.

I didn’t pop in to the Bell yesterday to see if I’m still barred from a visit from 1996, when I wrote a column poking a bit of fun at the locals and a mischievous Ed Lines reader sent them a copy.

It’s a small world.


I FEEL strangely sorry for poor old TM the PM with the stick she took this week.

I don’t know where Mrs May met her future husband Philip, but it’s a fair bet it wasn’t at a Young Conservatives’ Christmas disco – unless he has two left feet as well, in which case it was a match made in heaven.

What is a Prime Minister to do when a public appearance turns into an impromptu display of local dancing? 

Shuffle a bit politely I guess, which is all she tried to do, no doubt cringeing inside. 

Unfortunately she looked like a drunk with one leg stuck in a bar stool.

But if she stands stock-still, she gets a ration for peeing on the kids’ parade; join in and she’s roundly mocked for not being Darcey Bussell. Talk about a lose-lose situation.

I’m always glad of the opportunity to give the hopeless woman a broadside, but no-one voted for her based on a Tina Turner impression. 

Give the woman a break – for now at least.

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