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October 2018: Autumn in the Southern Chilterns

We feel an autumn break should be about embracing the beauty of the season rather than trying to escape it in the search for year-round ...More
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Charles Kennedy

When many politicians die we remember distant figures and the offices they held. With Charles Kennedy’s demise we recalled a warm and spontaneous wit, as if a decent bloke we knew down the pub had left us too young. It was indeed his love of or enslavement to alcohol that killed him, that fatal flaw making him appear all the more human. Kennedy’s leadership of the Liberal Democrats saw them in 2005 secure their highest number of MPs since 1923, in spite – or because of? – his struggles with the policy minutiae, his jovial conversational style in that role a contrast with Paddy Ashdown’s cocksure bombast before him and Ming Campbell’s zombie gravitas after. He was though not merely a joker. Far from it. When the Iraq War loomed he, almost alone of all British statesmen, pushed back against the Blair-Bush drive towards conflict, his performances in the Commons then being rare examples of meaningful debate amid planted questions and mindless careerism. Charles Kennedy has been called one of the first modern media politicians for his frequent chat-show appearances, but he was also a throwback to an age when sincere rhetoric, heart and belief were more important than being ‘on message’. For that and for much more we’ll miss him.

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A man is in general better pleased when he has a good dinner upon his table, than when his wife talks Greek - Samuel Johnson
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On this day:
Scilly Naval Disaster – 2000 Drown - 1707, First Plastic Surgery in Britain - 1814, Blantyre Mining Disaster - 1877, Crippen convicted at Old Bailey - 1910, George Blake Escapes from Wormwood Scrubs - 1966
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