Duke

Andrew’s chance remark made me think how lucky I am to have been born when I was. We were walking towards Boughton House by the back way through the old stable block, which is the route used by the public when allowed admission, and he said, “Imagine how terrifying it would be for an 18th century villager to approach this building.”

The unfinished wing, seen through the stable blockI grew up in the seventies, when most such houses belonged to the National Trust, and I could approach them in the secure knowledge that they were ours: they belonged to my society, and I had a right to be there. Similarly with the grand public buildings of London.

The side of the house, shorter than the front, with the unfinished wing on the leftThe unfinished wing was built to maintain some notion of symmetry, in the imagination of someone familiar with the building, or the eye of any passing Montgolfier, but the internal floors and ceilings were never added. The building contains some impressive art, yet is not even the Joke of noCleugh’s largest private house.

As the bus clanked back through British Leyland (yes, that is its name, at least in Swanstonshire) we went down a street at the end of which three great wind turbines loomed, and I wondered if that were still the case. The people live in their shadow, but do they belong to members of our society, with whom we share a common bond? It is less clear, in the twen-teens.

Possibly, though, the fragmentation which allows such great accumulation of wealth in few hands once again to be lauded rather than corrected also allows me to be me. One of my main themes

parchmentThis might be less possible, if our solidarity were closer.

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