Friday, 18 June 2010

Icons of England

As expected my long summer evenings have been devoted to reading. At 10 pm. my body starts craving for a soft bed, but it’s still light outside, so while the mind is alert, a good book keeps me company.

At the moment it’s “Icons of England” – a compilation of short stories written by “high profile and well respected commentators” portraying their feelings towards the English countryside. And I’d recommend it to anyone who’s been to the country and fell in love with it.

The English might seem a bit strange to the rest of the world (just think about the separate taps for cold and hot water, their habit to put milk into their tea, endless conversations about the weather), but I admire them for sticking to their way of doing things without worrying if it looks funny or weird. So if anyone can preserve the best things from the past it will be the English. Although it seems that even they might have to club together in order to achieve the goal.

This book was where I first heard about the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) - strangely enough led by a famous American writer Bill Bryson. (Even HRH The Prince of Wales starts his foreword with “There is perhaps a rich irony in the fact that it takes an American … to recognize, celebrate and fight to preserve so much of what is precious about our country.”) An initiative that I would welcome in any country, that wants to conserve what is unique and so dare to its nation.

So what’s so magical about England? What do we have to save that we wouldn’t ruin the spell? If you are intrigued, read about the icons of England – red post boxes, country churchyards, hares, estuaries, rural branch lines, ancient trees and many more.

I’ve been to England many times, but now I’m dead set to see Land’s End. “…Land’s End is magnificent. Even with the vast ocean on three sides, it still manages to make it’s mark – rather than engulfing it, the giant Atlantic has taken it in its lap. … When the summer sunshine beams down on the water and the mild wind blows inland from the ocean, there’s nowhere I’d rather be.” – Muhammad Abdul Bari

I’d also love to buy some fossils from Mary Anning’s shop in Lyme Regis. “Around ninety-nine per cent of all the species that ever lived are now extinct and only a very small fraction are preserved as fossils; and even smaller fraction are ever actually found. And at Mary Anning’s shop, you can get all this for just £2.50.” – Rosie Boycott

Oh, and plant an apple tree that would produce those special apples. “Old pearmain, recorded in the thirteenth century, is probably the only one of our contemporary English apples that Shakespeare would have recognized.” – Raymond Blanc

1 comment:

nikkipolani said...

England's high on my list of places to visit. The CPRE sounds interesting. In a way, the BBC's (and others) costume dramas keep the beautiful countryside in mind even for people who never get to visit England.