This England: The Newsreel! November 9th 2018


On This Day: Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

65th anniversary of the death of Welsh poet, Dylan Thomas

The Great National Trust Cover Up

In all of the 350 heritage properties owned by the National Trust, there are items to be proud of and which (one would think) are unerringly displayed at their best. So imagine visitors’ bafflement when upon visiting Cragside in Northumberland this week, they found paintings and sculptures covered in sheets and plastic bags.

A restoration project, you say? An attack by a guerrilla sculptor, perhaps? Actually it was an attempt by the trust to celebrate the role of women… by hiding any artworks associated with men. Public disapproval was equally thinly veiled – the idea brandished ‘ridiculous’ by some quarters also saw one visitor complaining, ‘Having paid a touch under £50 to get in, it is disappointing not to be able to see the whole collection’. Quite. This escapade may take some time to brush under the carpet.

Stay calm and put the kettle on

From Pantone references to effusive spiels on how one takes it, tea has long been an exacting subject for us, the English. Though tragically it looks as though the Great British Brew is now threatened by its herbal rivals. As reported in The Times, ‘figures revealed last month suggest that Britons have turned their affections away from traditional teas towards green and herbal blends’.

Still losing your cool about this is still very unbecoming. In an interview on Absolute Radio, Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch took aim at the gentle camomile infusion in an explosive rant: ‘I’m sick of camomile tea being called tea. It’s not tea! Tea is a green leaf that comes mainly from the foothills of India and South America – places that have beautiful mountains. It needs to be a subtropical, alpine climate. It’s a very specific process. Camomile is not grown in these environments. So, that’s not a tea’. Thank you Benedict, but really, there’s no need to boil over.


Little breeds hit the big time

From collies to cavaliers, bulldogs to beagles, we’ve always been a nation of dog lovers. But interestingly some classic English breeds are in decline because they’re deemed, well, too big to live with.

The rise of smaller, cramped dwellings means that while many of us are still purchasing a pooch, it is very much of a size to have and to hold. Old English Sheepdogs in particular are on the ‘at watch’ list because of their low numbers and Kennel Club registrations of English Setters are also down 20%. Here at This England, we like big mutts and in the light of this news are considering getting a mascot. Name suggestions more than welcome.  


A Sea Change

The flagship of the British task force to the Falklands, HMS Hermes, is to start a new life in India as a maritime museum. Commissioned in 1959, Hermes (names after the winged Greek god messenger) served with the Royal Navy from 1959 to 1984, before being sold to India and reinventing herself as INS Viraat (meaning ‘giant’ in Sanskrit).

Now decommissioned, there were doubts about her future – a corporate partner for the project still needs to be found to fund the cost of what is thought to be an £80 million transformation. But with these plans afoot for her to serve as a museum and adventure tourism destination with facilities for sailing, it seems there’s no stopping this ship’s capacity for reinvention. Perhaps we should rename her the Madonna?     


It shouldn’t happen to… a food snob

William Sitwell, former Editor of Waitrose magazine, was ensnared this week after a private email proposing an article on ‘killing vegans one by one’, sent to a vegan, went viral for all the wrong reasons. Tail firmly between legs, Sitwell has now resigned from his post held for nearly twenty years and temporality retired we imagine, to chew the fat on his illustrious days as Editor.

But is this a case of vegans ‘baying for blood’ – as said by Janey Godley on ‘Have I Got News for You’ last Friday – and trial by social media ogre, or simply a case of reaping what one sows? A quick scout round the Waitrose Food Court delivers a fresh answer – commercial interest. The supermarket is now home to a major new vegan range and clearly can’t afford such jokes made in poor taste.


Better late than never

Swimming hats off to Ross Edgley this week for being the first person ever to finish a lap of Britain. Unbelievably the fitness fanatic completed the 1791-mile swim in a clockwise direction around the Isles over five months and ate 640 bananas apparently to keep up his energy. He enters the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest staged sea swim – though it wasn’t all plain sailing. ‘Sorry I’m late’, he said as he greeted family and friends on the finish line – yes, 57 days late to be precise.

Perhaps we’re being a bit mean. Especially given recent news that a BA plane was three days late last week. Labelled ‘the journey from hell’ by one passenger, flight BA2036 departed Orlando Florida on Thursday and reached its destination in London on Sunday. Crickey – not quite enough to make you reach for your costume in November but enough to make you wonder if one could swim across the pond, if pushed.

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