Carola Godman Irvine. Farmer, Campaigner & Columnist. 05-05-21

  • Written by Carola Godman Irvine
  • Posted on May 06, 2021
  • Articles

As I write another Bank Holiday is looming. Fair enough for those who have battled on regardless over this past year, but many would not object if Bank Holidays were banished for the rest of 2021.

Just as the country is getting back to work, life grinds to a halt. A time when productivity is dangerously low, public transport is suffering from lack of demand and businesses are struggling whilst trying to hang onto and support their staff.

Rather than inflict these ‘holidays’ which disrupt most businesses, perhaps the message should be to increase productivity  and allow employers to escalate the number of hours staff can legally and willingly work.

Rain at last. Not much but at this stage anything is welcome. A few nights of gentle rain followed by warmer days would be ideal. Even the bluebells are taking their time to blossom; no doubt their reluctance is due to the persistent cold.

Last week’s topic on XR clearly hit a nerve with many readers who are equally irritated by the duplicity of this so called band of ‘eco warriors’. They did not hold back on their response to my column, and amongst many comments were: “These extremists are dumb as well as dangerous”.

“I have come to the conclusion that in today’s weird world a Conservationist and an Environmentalist are two very different things. I prefer to associate myself with the former”.

“Environmentalism is now a political movement trying to force radical change, mostly out of spite. A Conservationist is someone who tries, through practise, to consider habits for future generations of wildlife and people”.

There were many more but I am reluctant to trouble the WSG’s lawyers!

The goings on in Downing Street are bewildering, but when one looks back at the history of this Westminster cul-de-sac there are some intriguing facts.

Sir George Downing, a notorious spy for Oliver Cromwell and later Charles II, purchased the lease on the land south of St James’s Park in 1654, where he planned to build a row of terraced town houses, “for persons of good quality to inhabit in…”

The investment did not prove to be straightforward as the Hampden family, who had a lease on the land, refused to relinquish it. Downing fought their claim but failed and had to wait 30 years for before he could build once the Hampden lease expired.

Between 1682 and 1684, Downing employed Sir Christopher Wren to design the houses. It is recorded that, ‘although large, they were put up quickly and cheaply on soft soil with shallow foundations.’

Winston Churchill wrote that Number 10 was “shaky and lightly built by the profiteering contractor whose name it bears”!

The property was offered to Sir Robert Walpole by King George II in 1732. Walpole accepted on the condition that the gift was to the office of First Lord of the Treasury rather than him personally. He then commissioned William Kent to join the three houses, which today is known as Number 10 Downing Street.

Few early Prime Ministers lived there as it was costly to maintain, neglected and run-down. On a number of occasions it was close to being demolished.

Surely when one considers what a pittance British Prime Ministers are paid, the public should be asking why they are expected to pay to redecorate their living quarters in what Margaret Thatcher called ‘one of the most precious jewels in the national heritage’.

There is a certain irony that Boris invited the modern day version of Rasputin into Number 10. A man he defended against the indefensible, who, due to a bruised ego is now lobbing spiteful accusations at his benefactor.

I wonder who will turn out to be the modern day Felix Yussupov? I think the PM could perhaps do with him now!

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