[DWJ] Strong Country
charlescbutler at btinternet.com
Wed Mar 22 14:15:54 EST 2006
A bit OT, but when I met up with Ania on New Year's Day she recommended that I read Roger Norman's *Albion's Dream*, which I've now done - and very good I found it too. (The nearest DWJ equivalent is *The Merlin Conspiracy*, if you want an ObDWJ!)
The passage that struck me with a kind of nostalgia was this, describing a sign seen on a train journey from Woking to Dorset:
"Large billboards by the railway proclaim ' You are now entering the STRONG COUNTRY.' When I was younger I thought that Strong referred not to a brand of cider, but to some entirely justifiable provincial pride. The land of Arthur, of Alfred; the West Country that had stood against the Saxons; Wessex that had driven back the Danes."
This resonated strongly with me, as they say, because I grew up right next to the Strong's brewery (they were brewers, not cider makers - the narrator's wrong about that) - so close that each bonfire night we made a game of trying to fire rockets from our back garden into their malthouse chimney. At the main brewery gate, as if signalling the end of some epic quest, stood the reassuring notice: 'You are at the heart of the STRONG COUNTRY.'
In the light of *Albion's Dream* I now see that, when I later read the Mabinogion, one reason I liked the description of Britain as 'the island of the mighty' was because it subconsciously recalled that phrase about Strong's brewery. So there you go. Thanks, Ania, for the recommendation - and to the rest of you for bearing with me so far!
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