Saturday, 31 May 2008

Cleaning the stables

This photograph may not at first seem to relate that closely to the title of this blog (and the FT blog to which it's linked). Patience.

That was forwarded to me by Tony Weston, a university friend who lives in Prague: he keeps a close eye on the international scene, including what's going on in the UK. I don't often rush for the FT myself, but the article seemed to me worth sharing more widely. I enjoyed the Responses too, and was struck by Esther Phillips' comment: I am tempted to conclude that people with “common sense” don’t go into politics and hence there can be no “common sense” found amongst politicians. It was this realisation thirty years ago that pushed me towards joining what was then quite a new political party, the Ecology Party. There I met Jonathon Porritt, who - unlike me - is still a member of what is now the Green Party. In spite of his high profile in affairs environmental over the whole of the intervening period, Jonathon has never gone into mainstream party politics - having, as Esther Phillips would say, far too much common sense.

Five years ago yesterday, Caroline planned a major surprise dinner for my 60th birthday at Stanway Tithe Barn, and was cross with Jonathon's wife Sarah for spilling the beans - inadvertently. On that occasion, another university friend, Colin Russell made an embarrassingly elaborate speech in my favour. This year, for my 65th birthday (and to mark my retirement), she planned another, smaller dinner, which was a complete surprise - only revealed at teatime (when this photograph was taken). Though two of the special guests - Edmund and Claire - had to cry off at the last moment, Leo and Mini came, and also the Porritts and the Russells. On a warm, sunny evening, we sat in the garden drinking champagne (provided by Colin and Jessica), before going indoors for a delicious dinner with excellent conversation: exactly how a birthday should conclude!

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