Last weekend for the first time in years I attended a Remembrance Sunday Parade here in the United Kingdom and I must say how much I was touched by the occasion. Cheltenham, where we are staying, is - and always has been, very much ‘middle England’ and so I suspect that in scores of towns up-and-down the country the same sort of thing has been going for decades past.
I have to say that we only made our minds up to attend an hour or so before the event - and as it was happening only a couple of hundred metres from where we are staying it was hardly any sort of hardship now was it? The ceremony and march-past was held along Cheltenham’s Promenade just outside the town hall and I have to report that I was really surprised as to how many people were there.
Perhaps like everyone else, I expected many be-medaled old soldiers to be there - and they were, but - I was really surprised at the numbers of young families in attendance. As a military band played gentle memories of military times past, the hundreds and hundreds in attendance broke into spontaneous applause on a number of occasions. Eventually as the simple service and minutes silence came to an end, small groups from each of the armed services marched smartly away, followed by young military cadets - the Remembrance Service came to an end.
On reflection, the whole ceremony, that was typically bereft of any nationalism or jingoism and could not have been a more inclusive occasion. If I had to define what Britishness was, or perhaps to describe what I wanted it to be - it would be this quietly civilised ceremony, held in a lovely English town on a sunny Sunday morning amongst the reds, yellows, and rusty browns of an autumnal morning.
Knee-deep in leaflets!
In waxing lyrical about the events of the last few days here in the UK, perhaps I shouldn’t get too carried away with some positive aspects of living the life here for a while. For instance, believe it or not, there are some things that occur here that might cause a persons teeth to itch.
I’m not talking of major irritations such as boy racers roaring about my part of town late at night, ‘cos that happens in Mallorca possibly on a more regular basis. Nor can one moan about the service you receive at your local ‘friendly’ bank - mostly because, like Mallorca they don’t want you - just your money. Nevertheless, I have happened upon the most excruciatingly annoying thing that happens here in the United Kingdom, that in my experience never happens in Spain.
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you….junk mail! Hey, not that you’d want it I can assure you. Staying with my mother-in-law on this extended visit, at a guess she receives through her letterbox at least five pieces of unwanted and uncalled-for - letters, commercial flyers, round-robins, circulars, political propaganda, on a daily basis.
This morning (Tuesday) nine prices of junk mail were shoved through the letterbox, my mother-in-law, who is well used to this sort of thing, tells me that as Christmas approaches, so will the number of various bits of paper and envelopes she will have to wade through to get to the front door.
Mind you, it isn’t just the stuff coming through the letterbox; buy any British newspaper, national or local - and immediately random pieces of advertising will fall out of it and then get quickly chucked into the bin.
Shouldn’t the people who produce this rubbish be looking to save trees and rainforests or something? The next time your UK newspaper bangs on about the evils of climate change, perhaps we should remind them to refrain from putting even more dead trees in their daily Eco rants!
Tourist tax about turn!
Perusing my MDB online, I noticed a story that proclaimed that the so called ‘tourist tax’ that will be gathered next year will not be used to the advantage of the environment locally, but - just put in a pot like all the other taxes that are raised by government. Who would have thought it? Is it me, or was the raison-detre of this tax - and the main argument behind its introduction, the fact that it would go to improve our under-pressure environmental needs?
Well, frankly no - or, not anymore! Believe it or not, I am not stupid - but, suddenly changing a ‘flagship’ tax that was specifically introduced to combat a specific problem (its introduction was widely debated) only to change its whole status, seems unfortunate at best and ever so slightly cynical at worst.
Yes, governments have to respond to various political problems and pressures the best way they can - but, the tourists tax that was sold on the idea of improving our environment, was nothing of the sort was it?
Yes, we have had Covid-19 and all its accompanying problems both medical and monetary - but the eventual abandonment of the environmental element of the ‘tourist tax’ was forecast by many people at its introduction. It’s a funny old world isn’t it?
Obesity and britain...
Just to cheer myself up, I thought I would tell you rising levels of obesity and addiction means that Britons are among the least healthy people in the whole of Europe. It appears that the UK is 18th out of 20 nations, having fallen from 12th spot over the past decade.
Although I will be probably reported for publishing the following figures, it seems that the average European country has an obesity rate of 22% - the UK almost tops the ‘chubby-challenge’ ratings with a hefty 27.8% of its population apparently in need of a little more self control around unsuitable foodstuffs. Unhappily perhaps, we can’t even boast about being the absolute worst it seems. Never mind!