The Englishness of English policy, English gardening and English gardens

A video clip of a 71-year-old lady using her handbag to stop a gang of thieves robbing a jeweller is being shown everywhere. Ann Timson deserves to be memorialised in a park or garden. She encapsulates a strand in English foreign policy and English garden design. Instead of making a permanent alliance with any foreign power, England’s aim was always to maintain a balance of power and to support the rights of small countries. Burglars had to be fought. Bullies had to be defeated. It was self-interest. Nor was any foreign style of garden design ever adopted in its entirety. Nor is any one plant allowed to dominate a garden. Young plants are cherished like children – and then ruthlessly cut back when they begin to overwhelm their neighbours. A good place for a statue of Ann Timson bashing the burglars would be at the other end of Victoria Tower Gardens from Rodin’s Burghers of Calais.

Note: if the Youtube link does not work, the video can also be seen here and here or, with an advert and an American commentary, here.

8 thoughts on “The Englishness of English policy, English gardening and English gardens

  1. Adam Hodge

    Ann Timson was very brave in her actions, but it just begs two questions ..why was it her that took action and no others ? I suspect that she was just furious to see a theft happening.

    What will happen though when one of the urchins who was involved in the incidence decides to sue her for hurting him, maybe with some exaggerated claim for a life threatening injury? When the judges find in favour of the claim and lock Ann up for 3 months we might realise why we don’t jump to action to uphold the law

  2. Tom Turner Post author

    We have some odd judges to be sure, but it would, to say the least, be difficult to find ‘twelve good men and true’ to convict Ann Timson – and if a crazed judge instructed them to do so the tabloids could surely have him drummed out of the country. Northamptonshire Deputy Chief Constable Suzette Davenport said: “I have today met with Ann and, on behalf of the Force, thanked her for what she did…. She demonstrated true community spirit in wanting to help others.” So it’s our turn next Adam! I don’t think I would do it in the cold light of reason but I once grabbed a Turkish soldier by the lapels and yelled at him. He was built like an ox, I afterwards noticed, so perhaps I could manage it if I was cross and it was 2 am and Mount Ararat was looming into the clouds above us.

  3. Tom Turner Post author

    My thoughts about the forestry sell-off are (1) the Forestry Commission has not done a good job of managing forests (2) but the problem was less-than-half their fault: the Forestry Act compelled them to behave ‘badly’ to the trees (3) so the first thing to do should be to revise the Forestry Act (4) it they can’t/won’t do this then AND if they sell off the forests with strict conditions THEN there could be benefits in a privatization programme.
    As for the English: YES – indignation comes to us very easily, especially with regard to any things which governments do.

  4. Christine

    From the Australian experience, following Graham Wilkinson, [ ]it seems the core issue of concern is the ongoing protection of the ‘public good’ benefits that have been privatized to ensure intra and intergenerational equity. A key question is who pays to uphold the public interest, particularly the protection of fauna and fauna habitats and to ensure biodiversity values are not degraded, in forests into the future?

  5. Tom Turner Post author

    I like the Tasmanian discussion of forestry in terms of public and private benefits. In the UK the debate tends to be along the old party political lines (of the virtues of public and private enterprise). Private forests in the UK do in fact receive a large contribution from the public purse in the form of tax breaks. Left-wing commentators see these as fat-cat gifts to the rich, rather than as payments for public benefits.


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