Tag Archives: henry II

Broken necklace marks the spot in Broken Britain

Early early early. Up at 5am, cup of tea and then strolled in the crisp morning sunlight into town.

I beat the street cleaners today. Which was good and bad.

Within 50 yards of my house I found a 2p piece on a drain cover, which augured well.

The ‘bad’ of beating the street cleaners rapidly became apparent. Beer cans balanced on railings and the foliage of plants. Smashed pint glasses and alcopop bottles. Flattened gold beer bottle tops, looking irritatingly like pound coins in the sunlight. Plastic forks and innumerable polystyrene fast food containers, usually with their half-eaten contents congealing across the pavement. Crushed cigarette packets, cellophane wrappers and enough dog-ends to keep a town of tramps in smokes for a week. Greasy chicken carcasses in charity shop doorways. Plastic bags and cardboard burger boxes abandoned within yards of bins. The occasional dried stain of urine run downhill from a wall or patch of pink spatter in the middle of the street marking a head-spinning stagger and retch towards the end of the night.

I think, though am quite prepared to accept that my terrible memory misleads me, that it was David Cameron who first coined the phrase ‘broken Britain’. I don’t like the phrase. I don’t like the concept. Most of all I don’t like the insinuation that our country may be beyond repair. But walking through town that phrase rushed to the forefront of my mind, I felt my eyes grow heavy, and my heart grow leaden. Our shallow, greedy, gimme-it-now pop culture is really rather a damning statement on the country’s health, though this interesting article suggests at one point that perhaps by thinking in such terms we exacerbate matters. Hmmm, I dunno, but I can’t help thinking that rather than issuing a fine for dropping litter, dishing out some early morning street-cleaning to any offenders might be more effective. Community service is something I’m very keen on.

But moving onto the positive…my eye was drawn to the middle of the road as I walked through the town centre. Two coins, made into a percentage mark by a black costume jewellery necklace dividing them diagonally. A £1 coin and a 50p coin! Yes, that does merit an exclamation mark. Having bragged the other day about my 55p haul, today’s total, including a couple of other coppers discovered as I continued my walk, beat that by a full one pound sterling.

I need a digital dictaphone, I’ve decided. I write constantly in my head as I walk, and those who know me are aware that I write much as I speak, and I speak much as I think. I do own a dictaphone, but it’s so old Henry II could have used it to play back his REAL complaints to the knights who slew Thomas Becket through misplaced loyalty. The usual quote is “Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?”, which while poetic is not, it is generally accepted, correct. See Wikipedia’s article on Henry II for more info if you’re interested.

There you go – amateurish social commentary, half-remembered history and just over a quid for charity. Not a bad morning’s work…