Walking Class Hero: All that is solid melts into air
Welcome to Walking Class Hero a regular blog about walking and the walking environment. Whether you like walking on your own, with friends or in an organised group this blog will cover it. It’ll embrace walking in cities and towns and villages. Walking in the countryside and along the coast and up hills and down dales. Walking through parks and by rivers and across heath and down and moor. It’ll comment on public rights of way, access to open country, permissive paths, public urban space and countryside protection. Basically if you can walk there it’ll be in this blog.
All that is solid melts into air (Tuesday 20 April)
Warning: This blog contains personal views from the outset and these might not necessarily reflect those of The Ramblers
You gotta love a general election that’s called so near to 1 April that it begins with the Guardian’s ‘Step Outside Posh Boy’ April Fool – it certainly sets a promising tone. We’ve also had the first of the televised leadership debates (and about time too). So momentous so far that Nick Clegg’s ‘game changing’ performance has led to the spectacle of a haunted worried looking Peter Mandelson splashed across our TVs. Who’d’ve thought it would be the nice Liberal Democrats who not only would offer the ‘posh boy’ outside but then proceed to give him a sound kicking. Interesting times… Then there’s the manifestos.
Manifesto is a strange word – I’m no expert but I’m guessing it comes from ‘manifest’ – which means clear and obvious. Hmmm something wrong there then. Here’s a sentence from the Ed Miliband inspired Labour Party effort: “Unemployment has, so far, risen by over 500,000 less than people expected this time last year”. You what? Unemployment has gone up a lot but not nearly as much as we feared. Clear as mud mate. So I wouldn’t recommend you search through this lot to find out what the various parties think about walking. What you can do is follow the only link this week below (other than the tunes obviously) and email your parliamentary candidates and ask them to pledge their support to The Ramblers manifesto.
I live in the Richmond Park & North Kingston constituency – a 2 horse race between the Lib Dems and the Conservatives. (I don’t even know the Labour Party candidate’s name and I’ll bet the house on the fact the returning officer won’t be announcing him or her as the winner in the early hours of May 7.) Sitting MP, Lib Dem Susan Kramer, holds a slimmish majority of 3,721. Born in Holborn, she’s Oxford educated, was completely taint free in the recent expenses scandal and has a keen interest in transport – holding that shadow post for the Lib Dems in the past. She’s facing a stiff challenge from the Tory Party’s second most famous non-dom tax exile – Zac Goldsmith. The Guardian describes him as the one Tory you’re allowed to like. His dad was the financier Sir James Goldsmith (famous as serially suing Private Eye) and Zac was infamously expelled from Eton following the discovery of marijuana in his room. Another surprising aspect of Zac is his soundness over the environment. He’s a former editor of The Ecologist and did a great job modernising this previously staid, boring and worthy journal.
So you might think I’m on the horns of a dilemma here. Not a bit of it reader. Robin Hood didn’t write the Magna Carta (might have to check the facts on that), the Peasants didn’t revolt and women weren’t force fed so I could continue to metaphorically tug my forelock to this obscenely rich scion of aristocracy who seems to view sitting in parliament as his birthright. (Two of his grandfathers were Conservative MPs). In fact I’m doing a bit of volunteering in support of the Lib Dems (what would my old Militant chums say?!) and today I’m out leafletting locally.
The first thing to say is this part of London looks really odd these days because that unpronounceable Icelandic volcano has grounded all the planes for the last few days and we’re quite close to a flight path. (Wonder if 50’s Britain was like this?) I find I’m singing XTC’s Respectable Street to myself as I wander round. Then just round a corner I find a sign warning drivers to slow down because toads are crossing. Bet you didn’t get that in 50’s Britain. I’m beginning to notice that if this election were to be decided upon posters in windows the Lib Dems would win hands down. Saw virtually no Conservative supporters but those little orange Lib Dem diamonds are twinkling all over the place. My excitement for the day isn’t over yet as walking back down by the river I hear a tremendous kerfuffle as a dog chases a cat up a tree. The cat scurries about 20 feet up and forgets that coming down ain’t gonna be that easy. The poor old kitty hangs on for dear life as the little dog circles round till its dozy owner arrives and drags it reluctantly away. The cat then inelegantly crashes to the ground and scampers hurriedly off through the undergrowth. All we really needed was the arrival of the fire brigade to rescue the cat.
It’s already too late to remind you to register to vote but please do chase up your parliamentary candidates to support the Ramblers manifesto and remember that local elections are also taking place around the country in some places and the result of these races can have a great impact on walking in your area. Councillors often know nothing about rights of way or access land and can be difficult to rouse to action. Years ago (not where I live now I hasten to add) a protracted dispute about a blocked path once led a councillor to say to me on the phone: “Not that forking path again” – well I think that’s what he said.
Ramblers general election manifesto: http://www.ramblers.org.uk/Campaigns+Policy/Election10
Take action! Ask your PPC to pledge to breaking down the barriers to walking: http://tinyurl.com/yzbkohg
John Martyn – Solid Air
Gil Scott-Heron – The Revolution Will Not Be Televised
Roxy Music – Manifesto
The Who – Won’t Get Fooled Again – Original Album Version
Buffalo Springfield – For What It’s Worth
Thunderclap Newman – Something In The Air – Single Version
Alice Cooper – Elected
XTC – Respectable Street