“The poorest man may in his cottage bid defiance to all the forces of the crown. It may be frail – its roof may shake – the wind may blow through it – the storm may enter – the rain may enter – but the King of England cannot enter.”
William Pitt, 1763
The above heading (from the full sentence, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”) was something that Mark Twain was fond of saying, though he never claimed it; he attributed it to Disraeli, who, it turns out, never said it either. Interesting side-note about this: Disraeli’s fiercest opponent was Gladstone. Both served as British Prime Ministers in the 1800s. I grew up – albeit for only the first 4 or 5 years of my life – on Gladstone Street in a village in Leicestershire. And my gran on my mother’s side lived most of her adult life on Palmerston Boulevard; Gladstone served as Chancellor under Palmerston (another Prime Minister) in the mid-1800s. And if you know a little Irish history, you may know Palmerston derived his name from an Irish peerage, and of course, that is very much an imported idea into Ireland (and by ‘idea’ I mean a vehicle with which to acquire land and title, and by ‘acquire’ I do, of course, mean steal).
Not that naming streets after famous politicians is unusual; the road leading on to Palmerston Boulevard was Asquith Boulevard, another British PM. And lest you think it all sounds terrifically posh, these were ‘boulevards’ in name only: in truth, the plan all along was to leave space for a ring road around Leicester city, and this they eventually did. The wide gap between the opposing rows of standard suburban semi-detached housing meant that not only did each house have its own front garden (an ideal borne out of the ‘every man’s home is his castle’ ruling of Judge Edward Coke in 1604, based on popular belief at the time; you could, indeed, call it an extension, ha ha!), it also had a large area of grass beyond that, and in the case of Palmerston Boulevard, it had the added benefit of being a cul-de-sac.
I’m glad my gran had a long life, but also pleased she didn’t have to suffer the ring road for too long when they eventually got around to building it. It radically changed the quality of life on that road, but such is progress. As kids, it was just a wonderful and safe place to play.
Anyway, that was a longer side note than I planned on typing, and with my bandy left hand, typing is not something I am good at right now. Much of the above snapshot of history occurred at a time when the British Empire was at its dizziest heights. The common refrain is that nine out of ten countries in the world were colonised by Britain. Ireland was one of those, needless to say. And with an Irish father and English mother, it’s an interesting history to wrestle with at times. But we digress once again. That’s because the gravitational pull of such colossal historical weight does tend to distort one’s thought process when in fact, all I wanted to do when I started this blog post was publsih one simple image. In my search for a snappy headline, I skirted on the edge of crazy town and nearly fell in with a bad lot.
I blame the antibiotics which are making me tearin’ itchy, and possibly the antihistamines I am taking to stop me scrubbing my torso with a wire brush. Either way, I hold Queen Victoria responsible, though it genuinely doesn’t give me any pleasure that the Brits sentenced themselves to Brexit purgatory. And yes, I can use the pejorative Brits coz I’m half-Brit, see?
Feck, where was I?
Oh yes, statistics. So here’s the pic from last week (a stat I have posted before).
I’m just posting it again because it makes me smile, and right now, I am hors de combat, as my Dad would say. So I am treating myself to a little self-indulgence (which must be a tautology… Jaysus, these meds are something else!).
I will be back running soon enough, and back to the gym, and on the bike. For now, we are in forced hibernation. And incidentally, if there are any municipal officials from Leicestershire City Council reading this, when Palmerston Boulevard was subsumed into the ring road, all of the lovely cast iron road signs became obsolete. And we robbed them. We still have one behind the barbecue stand in Leixlip, in my folk’s house. I think my gran was a little horrified when she found out (we stashed the contraband in her garage before we could find ways to fence the stolen goods). But I also suspect and hope she was a little pleased too.
And you are welcome to come and get it back, if you wish. But be warned, we won’t give it up without a fight. Our home is our castle, remember?