Day 13: Whitchurch to Upton

Ailing Aylesbury

Six walkers today, all friends. We talked endlessly as we walked; it was fun. We trailed through poor old, down-at-heel, litter-strewn Aylesbury, a once beautiful and elegant town. Its graceful Georgian centre was gutted by 1950/60s so-called “planners” and greedy developers. When next you visit Aylesbury, recall George Eliot’s quote:

“Behind every great fortune is always a great crime.”

Re-treading the Boards

I took a trip down memory lane as I passed the hall where I served – fruitlessly- as a district councillor.

I ponder the number of hours I must have spent as a member of local and district council boards, church PPCs, and school governing bodies and Parliamentary Committees, boards of companies, and health authorities.
I am convinced I might just as well have been playing ping pong for all the difference I sitting on these boards made to the well-being of mankind.

Malcolm Muggeridge called one of his Autobiographies “Chronicles of Wasted Time.”

Great title that.

One observation I know is true: I have walked right around the UK with my beloved Jane, and we have never ever seen a statue to a committee.

Patriotic Pride

Patriots are proud of their country; nationalists are inclined to dislike other countries (Nicola Sturgeon, please take note).

Patriots stand during the national anthem – and because they know the words, they can sing them without embarrassment. They are familiar with the story of the UK and recognise that this is not “history”, but essential general knowledge. Without it, people can have no real understanding of why we are here. History tells us that we are standing on the shoulders of giants. At the very least, we should know who some of these giants are and their stories. Such knowledge will allow us to appreciate that the freedoms we enjoy – the freedom of speech, freedom under the law, universal suffrage – were not delivered by Ocado or the tooth fairy but rather were won through bitter strife and in bloody battles fought by our forebears. And it will help us to understand the crucial importance of protecting these vital rights. 

They may not be hand-waving Christians, but patriots will know their way around the King James Bible and will be able to recite The Lord’s Prayer. They will have read some Shakespeare, at least some Dickens and some poetry.   

Patriots take pride in our island story and will understand that the empire was a mixture of good and bad, as is the case with much human endeavour. They will have some knowledge of the UK’s Civil War, Wellington and Napoleon, the American Civil War, the pluses and minuses of Empire, the First and Second World Wars, Normandy, Spitfires and Churchill. They remember or know about the atomic bomb, Vietnam, the Korean War, the Cold War and peace-keeping missions from 1945–2005. And they will know about the rise of the EU and the UK’s arguments for staying or leaving.    

A Patriot’s Ps and Qs

If you bump into a patriot on the pavement, he will say “sorry”. Patriots are not petty and will not take offence by the use of the word “he” to encompass both sexes. They are unfailingly polite, particularly to women.

Patriots pick up litter. They hold the door open for the next person and if walking with a lady, ensure she is on the inside for protection. Patriots dislike swearing in front of women and children, and they dislike filthy language on TV.  

Moral courage and personal integrity are high on a patriot’s list of virtues. He or she seldom boasts – except of course about the virtues of their children and grandchildren.  

Patriots dislike all things “woke”, Twitter storms and the leftward drift of institutions, in particular the Church, the National Trust and the BBC. They understand that the UK is protected, not by politicians, but domestically by the police, and nationally by the men and women of the air force, the army and navy.

Patriots worry that freedom of speech is being eroded by political correctness and are conscious that the career-destroying term “racism” is too often used as a term of general abuse. They agree with the statement by Dr Martin Luther King: “People should not be judged by the colour of their skin, but by the content of their character”, and would prefer to leave it at that, thank you very much.

Today, more than ever, this country needs patriots for their strong work ethic, sense of humour, sense of responsibility, pride in the UK and decent values.

I am, of course, sure that all ZANE supporters are patriots!  

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