Random DWJ discovery of the day

minnow at belfry.org.uk minnow at belfry.org.uk
Wed Mar 9 19:01:16 EST 2005

>He who holds that part of
>> the island is the ruler of the island, and the peripheral bits can think
>> what they want about it; nobody has ever suggested governing Britain from
>> anywhere north of ... well, London, actually.  And before that it was
>> Winchester, which is even further south.
>And Claudius ruled most of it from Rome, which is south again! That's an
>interesting point, mind - though I think we'd need to define our terms a bit
>more clearly to figure out the truth of it. If we're really talking about
>the island as a whole, for instance, it was never governed from anywhere
>before 1603, since when it's always been governed from London - though some
>now would make a case for the government being based (further south still)
>in Washington DC. (I ignore little blips like Charles I's time in Oxford,
>since he wasn't ruling the whole island at the time.) On the other hand, if
>we're talking about more diffuse kind of power, the kind that goes with
>rival kingdomlings that make and break treaties and offer tribute and demand
>allegiances - then you might make a claim for saying the Offa of Mercia
>(based in, er, Tamworth?) and prior to that Edwin of Northumbria were in
>their time at the very least primum inter pares. And, as we all know, King
>Arthur was a Glaswegian.

I don't think we are talking about the island as a whole, because (break it
gently to Washington DC) England is only part of the United Kingdom (now
rapidly devolving, and speaking as The First Republic of The Regent's
Park's Lake's Island I say about time too!) and Scotland and Wales and
Kernow have their own hearts thank you very much.  And their own
King-Stones as well, see Scone and argue about how to pronounce it.

In any case on further consideration I don't think the Land and the human
political stuff are all that related.  Stone circles pay no nevermind to
whether the House of Stuart or the House of Plantagenet is on the throne,
as far as I know, and nor do ancient tracts of woodland nor the broad sweep
of the upland out of the valley outside Goring-and-Streatley.  The land
just carries on regardless of whether it is called Wessex or Avon; *it*
knows what it is, and the names humans choose to give it for a while really
don't change it, do they?  We may argue (golly, have we ever argued!) about
the exact administrative borders between Scotland, England and Wales, and
the human habitations in the Marches may be in one or the other varying
from decade to decade, but somewhere in the undebated area of the places
themselves there's a heart.

>> All of these have their feeling of Old, but it's a *different*
>> feeling of Old; it's of themselves but not so English, more (say) Mercian
>> or other such ancient area.  I'm not knocking the regions, just trying to
>> explain the feel as opposed to the logic.
>That certainly does make Berkshire more central (in fact there's not a lot
>left!) Though I can't quite figure out why you have to be conquered by
>Normans to count as English... Is it something to do with the Rugby? ;-)

Are you having a Thing about railway junctions or something?  Swindon, and
now Rugby: what's Didcot done to offend you?  How about Crewe?

I think we'd better invent a game called "Clapham".

It isn't that the rest isn't England, it's that it hasn't been being it
consistently for long enough, or something, perhaps.  The northern part
took a while to make up its mind about being involved properly and not
being either a separate place or part of Scotland (some of it anyhow, and
it's clear that Yorkshire for instance *is* Yorkshire first and England
only second and a bit patronisingly), and I don't feel certain that some of
Devon has really decided to be English even now (though it is absolutely
clear it isn't Cornwall!)


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