The Fight For Beauty

It’s almost a year since I last posted, idly thinking that retirement might bring more time for he odd bit of writing. I don’t pretend to be a great scribe, and I am naturally lazy, re it was never going to happen that often. I enjoy reading more than the act of writing and it is reading that has brought me back.

The sister of a dear friend from schooldays has achieved great things in her life – and I am sure has more to offer. We all knew she would, always a special person wise and insightful beyond her years, the second of five talented sisters. Finally she has found time to write a book and, like many first books, it has an element of autobiography but that is not its point.

Dame Fiona Reynolds has dedicated her life to the good stuff that surrounds us through her work with the National Parks, CPRE and the National Trust as a volunteer, worker and leader. It is this personal history that is the backdrop to The Fight For Beauty as Fiona looks back over the way our country’s history has played its part in the shaping of our landscape and how the future can positively contribute. It is not a case for or against the past or the future but a carefully thought through discussion of the role of beauty in Development. For me, and friends will not be surprised,  the most important point being that our leaders’ current obsession with economics, profit and marketisation is potentially to the detriment of beauty. We have, as a result, become almost afraid to value beauty and the impact on the physical and mental health (and wealth) of our country is at stake. We need places to just ‘be’.

A heron on the banks of the canal near Natwich

I chose to read the book whilst holidaying on the Llangollen and Shropshire Union canals around Chester and Nantwich. A perfect setting that showed how manmade and natural beauty can come together to ease the body and mind directly demonstrating the really important stuff of life. Yes, we need homes, transport infrastructure, hospitals, schools, workplaces and shops but but we also need green spaces – breathing spaces.

Fiona makes the case far better than I so have a good read of the book; it is well written so it is not hard going, her clarity makes the points gently and firmly.

The Fight For Beauty is published by One World and is available from all manner of book retailers.

 

 

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A Passionate Woman

Passionate

  1. manifesting or exhibiting intense sexual feeling or desire a passionate lover
  2. capable of, revealing, or characterised by intense emotion a passionate plea
  3. easily roused to anger; quick tempered

It’s been buzzing around in my head for a few days now this word: ‘passionate’. There’s an awful lot of passion about these days and I think it came into focus for me during a discussion with my son about his future plans. He pointed out to me that if you want a job these days you have to be ‘passionate’ about the industry, service or organisation you are trying to be a part of.  Aged 19 and not really sure of what he wants to do with his life this has left him feeling somewhat disadvantaged. Applying for temporary work at various stores before Christmas he filled in numerous online applications for shop work, sorry I mean retail and was asked to illustrate his ‘passion’ for food, clothes, hiking equipment, books, DIY – you get the picture. OK. He likes eating and has been known to make the odd meal. He wears clothes and likes them to be of a good quality and reasonably fashionable. He enjoys a good walk and owns some boots and waterproof and he enjoys looking through books for information.  He can be quite interested when repairs are being carried out around the house.  But ‘passionate’? – I think not.

I am one of those fortunate people who have always enjoyed work. The various jobs I have had over the years have always been interesting, fulfilling and pleasurable – most of the time. I started my time working to stop people getting killed or injured on the roads, I had a time promoting green transport ideas and policies, I provided information to help people make the best of the NHS or to explain how things were changing  or being put right and I got to promote Lincolnshire as a place to live, work invest in and visit. But was I ‘passionate’ about all these? Interested in – yes, enthused by – yes, challenged by – yes, frustrated by – yes, sincere in my beliefs – yes…..passionate – definitely not! So does that mean if was to apply for these jobs again I would be excluded? Or would I simply sell out and litter my application with overblown expressions of desire?

So, lovely people – I am not passionate about my teaching, I am not even passionate about my dog Ralph. I thoroughly enjoy working as a lecturer at the University – it gives me pleasure to help young people develop and grow. I get enormous amounts of pleasure from walking my dog and being on the receiving end of his wagging tail and boundless energy. I like to see a job well done but I think I will reserve my passion for my human family – desire for my husband, intense emotion for my son and a short fuse for both!