How do we celebrate (or mourn, if you’re a remainer) Freedom Day 2019?

If it hasn’t happened already, I daresay it won’t be long before a public competition (no doubt to be won by an infant school wunderkind) is launched for events to mark the day the UK gains its freedom from the EU (although we should all know by now that it won’t happen for real until the end of 2021 – the almost two-year long extension to satisfy industry and institutions without the wit to use the two years of exit negotiations to sort themselves out! How they can call themselves ‘entrepreneurs’, I find pretentious beyond belief!)

My favourite suggestion so far (in the Daily Telegraph today – 29/3/18) is another Bonfire Night with the bogeymen of the Brussels bureaucracy being burnt in effigy instead of Guy Fawkes. The postscript to that suggestion was that Sir John Major and Tony Blair should be first reserves. Personally, I think the late Sir Edward Heath should be the first on the bonny.

I suspect that some of the present Cabinet and the Prime Minister herself could feature on the list, if the people of UK feel let down by whatever the final agreement comes up with, especially if the final price tag is more than we currently pay over two years for full membership and/or there is no end in sight for unlimited immigration from the EU.

The Ides of March

Today is, of course, the anniversary of the assassination of Julius Caesar at the hands of – amongst others – Marcus junius Brutus, who was probably his natural son by Sempronia, former wife of Marcus Junius Brutus senior, who was executed by Pompey. Now that was a political murder if ever there was one. JC and Sempronia had been lovers for a very long time – probably since before he married Cornelia, his first wife. Caesar’s last words (famously according to Shakespeare) were ‘Et tu Brute’ (often translated by students with tongue in cheek as ‘Ouch, you, brute!’)

Young Brutus and his fellow assassins, who had all fought against JC in his civil war against the corrupt Republican Senate and their equally corrupt supporting general, Pompey, had all been forgiven and reinstated in their positions of influence by JC after their lengthy civil war against him. Their excuse for killing JC was that he intended to have himself crowned king, which couldn’t have been further from the truth. JC had already been declared Dictator for life by the Senate, a role he had tried to resign. He no more believed in kingship than the most ardent of Republicans.

The First Day of Spring

Disregard anything the Met Office tells you. Today is the first day of Spring, six and a half weeks after the midwinter solstice. It’s freezing here and this week could turn out to be the coldest so far this year.

A few years ago I went to a Royal Artillery Gold Cup Meeting at Sandown race course on 6th February and the street verges were alive with daffodils all the way there. What a difference!

The Four Seasons

I DO HAVE to admit that I not infrequently get a bee in my bonnet about something that ‘the powers that be’ get – in my humble opinion – very deliberately and ignorantly – wrong. At this time of the year I am always reminded of this by the arrival of Christmas and – just before it – of the Winter Solstice on 21st December.

Now, when I were a lad, everyone knew perfectly well that the Winter Solstice marks MIDWINTER, NOT the beginning of Winter just as the Summer Solstice marks MIDSUMMER, NOT the start of Summer. Surely it stands to reason that the shortest day and the longest day are the signs that things are changing for the better.

In days of yore our ancestors depended on knowing that Midwinter had at last come to help them judge whether or not they had enough food to last them and their sheep and cattle until grass was lush enough to put meat on bones and goodness into milk; when at last some vegetables could be harvested to keep starvation at bay. Likewise the arrival of Midsummer was a festival time to celebrate the coming harvest and milder weather (hopefully) after hours of backbreaking work in the fields for the local bigwig ploughing, sowing, reaping and mowing in blistering heat – or whatever.

Similarly the Spring Equinox and the Autumn Equinox mark the middle of Spring and Autumn respectively and were times of celebration, the first to mark relief that all the crops were sown and the second to mark relief that they were all safely gathered in. Our Roman conquerors, who ruled these lands for nigh on four hundred years, got it right.

And yet, the Met Office insists on telling us that these ancient festivals mark the beginning of the respective seasons – how ignorant of our traditions can you get? Even the missionary priests who brought Christianity to these pagan islands in the third and fourth century AD were bright enough to realise they would make converts to their new religion, if they had the sense to recognise the existing festivals and mark them with Christian ones. They even built their churches, for heaven’s sake, on the holy sites long revered by the native people who had worshipped their gods there since time out of mind. (The Romans before them even had the good sense to recognise some of their gods as the same as their own).