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The Rich Tapestry of Life Page
Odds and ends that don’t fit anywhere else, information, general knowledge, light-hearted quips and quotes from all over the place that make up the ‘rich tapestry of life’ for reading in those odd moments when you have nothing else to do!  On this page, we thought we would celebrate England and being English!.  Read on and enjoy.
This is PAGE TWENTY FOUR - England My England
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Where do you come from?
ONE thing that is important to very many English people is where they are from. For many of us, whatever happens to us in later life, and however much we move house or travel, the place where we grew up and spent our childhood and adolescence retains a special significance. Of course, this is not true of all of us. More often than in previous generations, families may move around the country, and there are increasing numbers of people who have had a nomadic childhood and are not really "from" anywhere. 
But for a majority of English people, pride and interest in the area where they grew up is still a reality. The country is full of football supporters whose main concern is for the club of their childhood, even though they may now live hundreds of 
miles away. Local newspapers criss-cross the country in their thousands on their way to "exiles" who have left their local areas. And at Christmas time the roads and railways are full of people returning to their native heath for the holiday period.
Where we are from is thus an important part of our personal identity, and for many of us an important component of this local identity is the way we speak – our accent and dialect. Nearly all of us have regional features in the way we speak English, and are happy that this should be so, although of course there are upper-class people who have regionless accents, as well as people who for some reason wish to conceal their regional origins. The vast majority of the population, however, speak in a manner which identifies them as coming from a particular place. They speak like the people they grew up with, and in a way that is different from people who grew up somewhere else. Of course, people may change the way in which they speak during their lifetimes, especially if they move around the country, but most of us carry at least some trace of our accent and dialect origins with us all of our lives. 
Source: The Dialects of England
(Comment: What a wonderful country with so many different sounds coming out of our mouths telling everyone else where we’ve come from.)

Mrs.Beeton (1836-65)
Isabella Mary Beeton is the most famous cookery writer in British history. Published when she was only twenty-five, 
her most famous work, Mrs. Beeton's Book of Household Management, was a definitive guide on how to run a Victorian household and also contained over 900 recipes. Mrs. Beeton changed the way in which recipes were set out on the page, putting the ingredients list at the beginning of the recipe rather than within the recipe itself. Unfortunately, she did not live to see the success of her work, dying at the age of twenty-eight.
Source: ‘The Cook’s Book’
(Comment: Some names leap out of our history as defining points that stamp us as ‘British’!) 

Gardening and Cooking
I have fallen in love with my garden and with my veg patch in particular! Yes, I have kissed a few of my more beautiful prized vegetables, I might have hugged a couple of trees and on hot days put my ear to the ground to listen to things growing – I’m just going through what many men go through at this point in their lives when they become one with Mother Nature. I just like spending time with my veg. And I’ll tell you something: this has been the best cooking year of my life. I’ve had brilliant fun coming up with the recipes because I’ve been so inspired by everything that’s come out of my garden over the past year. 
I spent my childhood growing up in a village in Essex and I moved back there three or four years ago with my wife and kids. Like most people these days, with a busy family life and a hectic working schedule, I began to struggle with finding a balance between the two. I seem to have evened things up a bit now and it’s all thanks to my veg garden, believe it or not. I love spending the odd hour out there, and it really relaxes me. You might think I sound like a complete hippy now, but growing my own veg for these past few years has filled me with such pride, pleasure and passion. Witnessing changes in the garden through the year, having successes and failures, realizing that certain types of fruit or veg can have certain personalities and you have to work with them in different way, it’s all just fascinating to me!
Source: Jamie Oliver in ‘Jamie at Home – Cook your way to the Good Life’
(Comment: Where else do you find this love of pottering in the garden in such as you do in this green and pleasant land?)

The English in the face of danger
“It is a curious fact about British Islanders, who hate drill and have not been invaded for nearly a thousand years, that as danger comes nearer and grows they become progressively less nervous; when it is imminent they are fierce, when it is mortal they are fearless.”
Source: Winston Churchill 
(Comment: How strange but how true)

The English
Once upon a time the English knew whthey were. There was such a ready list of adjectives to hand. They were polite, unexcitable, reserved and had hot-water bottles instead of a sex life: how they reproduced was one of the mysteries of the western world. They were doers rather than thinkers, writers rather than painters, gardeners rather than cooks. They were class-bound, hidebound and incapable of expressing their emotions. They did their duty. Fortitude bordering on the incomprehensible was a byword: 'I have lost my leg, by God!' exclaimed Lord Uxbridge, as shells exploded all over the battlefield. 'By God, and have you!' replied the Duke of Wellington. A soldier lying mortally wounded in a flooded trench on the Somme was, so the myth went, likely to say only that he 'mustn't grumble'. Their most prized possession was a sense of honour. They were steadfast and trustworthy. The word of an English gentleman was as good as a bond sealed in blood.
Source: Jeremy Paxman’s ‘The English’
(Comment: Possibly over the top, but it is sad to lose some things)

The English - a comment
There can hardly be a country in the world that has not experienced great cultural upheavals during the 20th century and England is no exception. But the fact is the English were able to hang on to their illusions about themselves longer than most – at late as 1960’s, in fact. Paxman quotes the author Simon Raven s saying that Englishness meant “gentle manners, cricket, civility between the classes, lack of malice towards others, fair dealing with women and fair dealing with enemies.”  John Buchan’s Richard Hannay in The Thirty Nine Steps might be taken as an embodiment of this idea, I suppose (though Hannay was actually Scottish). But, as Raven and others interviewed by Paxman lament, all this seems to be disappearing fast. The old certainties are no more.
Source: Book Review by Anthony Campbell on Paxman’s, ‘The English’.
(Comment: The point is made even more strongly. It is sad that we have lost some things) 

Our England
To me, England is the country, and the country is England. And when I ask myself what I mean by England, when I think of England when I am abroad,  England comes to me through my various senses - through the ear, through the eye, and through certain imperishable scents. I will tell you what they are, and there may be those among you who feel as I do.
The sounds of England: the tinkle of the hammer on the anvil in the country smithy, the corncrake on a dewy morning, the sound of the scythe against the whetstone, and the sight of a plough team coming over the brow of a hill, the sight that has been seen in England since England was a land, and may be seen in England long after the Empire has perished and every works in England has ceased to function, for centuries the one eternal sight of England. The wild anemones in the woods in April, the last load at night of hay being drawn down a lane as the twilight comes on, when you can scarcely distinguish the figures of the horses as they take it home to the farm, and above all, most subtle, most penetrating and most moving, the smell of wood smoke coming up in an autumn evening, or the smell of the scutch fires: that wood smoke that our ancestors, tens of thousands of years ago, must have caught on the air when they were coming home with the result of the day's forage, when they were still nomads, and when they were still roaming the forests and the plains of the continent of Europe. These things strike down into the very depths of our nature, and touch chords that go back to the beginning of time and the human race, but they are chords that with every year of our life sound a deeper note in our innermost being.
These are the things that make England, and I grieve for it that they are not the childish inheritance of the majority of the people to-day in our country. 
Source: Part of the speech by Sir Stanley Baldwin to the Annual Dinner of The Royal Society of St George, 6 May 1924
(Comment: He could never have imagined England nearly ninety years on!)

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It was an evening in November,
As I very well remember,
I was strolling down the street in drunken pride, 
But my knees were all a-flutter,
And I landed in the gutter
And a pig came up and lay down by my side.
Yes, I lay there in the gutter
Thinking thoughts I could not utter,
When a colleen passing by did softly say 
`You can tell a man who boozes
By the company he chooses' 
And the pig got up and slowly walked away.

Source:  Anon – from The Nation's Favourite Comic Poems
(Comment: What does this say about the nation’s humour and