Archive by Author

Democracy and its Crisis

9 May
A. C. Grayling at Swindon festival of Literature

A. C. Grayling at Swindon Festival of Literature

A. C. Grayling took a packed and attentive audience right back to Plato when explaining about democracy.

The country was originally controlled by the aristocracy, where the King had absolute power given to him by divine right. Giving power to an ill informed public would result in anarchy and mob rule.

When Charles I was beheaded in 1649, a great change began in the idea of where authority lies and its source. The Levellers wanted the poorest in England to have as much right to a voice as the richest, with each individual (man) able to play a part in having a good enough government.

Over the next 200 years, thinkers such as John Locke and John Mills considered how to ensure a good enough government. i.e. vote someone competent to work on your behalf, listen to the facts and work in the best interests of the country..

However as more people got the vote, political parties emerged with their own agenda. MPs now had to obey the Whip, rebel and the party withdraws support for further re-election and the MPs career would be over. The tight control of the parties results in the institution being manipulated.

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Roam Alone – Tales of a reluctant traveller

3 May
Hazel Pennington, Hilary Bradt and Janice

Hazel Pennington, Hilary Bradt and Janice Booth ©Calyx Picture Agency

Hilary Bradt, Janice Booth and Hazel Pennington told an attentive audience about their solo travelling where they felt the fear of being alone but carried on regardless.

Hilary’s book, Roam Alone also contains stories from other people (mainly women) who had travelled alone.  A common theme from them all was how nervous they felt, what would happen if they fell ill or faced threats and no one knew where they were in a foreign land.  However once they had actually travelled alone it felt wonderful.

Thirty years ago Hilary was just divorced but she decided to travel round Ireland by pony.  She bought a lovely pony, Mollie and then, with no support had to transport the luggage and saddle in relays.

Back then without sat nav, reliance was on maps.  Hilary’s map was lacking in detail and she had to rely on local advice for directions.  Travelling alone she found that people chatted to her but were especially interested in Mollie and even examined the pony’s teeth. Continue reading