December 22, 2018
Firstly a correction: In the last blog I said that I listened to 10 hours of music per week. What a load of rubbish! If it is 40 hours then I may still be shy of the true figure. Sat at my desk, driving my car, riding my bike, writing the blog and most other places, if I am by myself. See my ‘Records Of The Year 2018’ for the fruits of this labour.
It was a week of learning. I started with the surprising fact that due to Health & Safety rules a postman now cannot change a flat tyre on his van. Our local postie, Andy, was stranded for an hour whilst a ‘man’ was called to carry out this deed. If you wonder why a Second Class stamp costs £0.58 then it is to cover this type of requirement. (Andy was similarly unimpressed with hanging around for an hour!).
Other education involved the loss of 30,000 men in a bloody battle about 10 miles west from our house. Anna and I went for a walk and look.
The Battle of Towton was fought in 1461. A reputed 50,000 soldiers converged on this small settlement outside Tadcaster. On one side was the English King, Henry VI and on the other side the other English King, Edward of York (to become Edward IV). One was a Lancastrian and the other was a Yorkist. These two Houses disputed the throne and a battle in The War Of The Roses took place here. The weather for March was harsh with snow and high winds. The superior Lancastrian armies were down wind from the onslaught of the lesser number of Yorkists who slaughtered many Lancastrians in a hail of arrows whilst the Lancastrian bowmen fell short with their missiles. The Lancastrians did briefly gain the upper hand but when reinforced by the Duke of Norfolk’s army the Yorkists won the hand to hand conflict and put the Lancastrians to flight. The Lancastrians were slaughtered. Their critical obstacle was a river at the bottom of a steep hill called the Cock Beck.
They couldn’t cross it and became easy quarry. The legend has it that the Beck ran red with Lancastrian blood and that one form of bridge that existed was the corpses in the Beck that others used to cross over.
Written history in the 15th Century was thin on the ground and seldom accurate. Accounts of the duration of the fighting and the casualties varies but historians believe the total numbers who fought are correct but that the death toll ranges between 3 to 30,000. The remains that are still being dug up today provide skeletons with horrific injuries as fierce and brutal weapons made holes in their skulls.
Today there is a walk at the battlefield with graphics that tell you about the War and the Battle. It’s tranquil and dog owners shout at their pouches to stay on the path and greet other walkers with friendly greetings. To think that the population in England was only 2,000,000 in the 15thCentury and that today’s UK armed forces only amount to 80,000 you can appreciate the scale of this conflict.
Whilst this, in effect, deposed Henry VI and the Yorkists took the crown it was only temporary as the Lancastrians eventually prevailed in 1485 with Henry VI reassuming the throne and merging both Houses by marriage.
In other observations then ‘camping’ students were evident in York. Not in tents or in wintery fields but in coffee shops down Fishergate. Here your average young millennial will buy a coffee and then open their laptop up and hog a table for two hours. I was not impressed when unable to sit in a favourite café. Neither can the proprietors be impressed as they expect these ‘tables’ to turn a decent revenue during the day. Again on York’s burgeoning student populations such now are a number of students of Chinese descent that means we have a number of shops catering to their grocery requirements. Quite a shock really but their money is no doubt welcome in the local economy.
Lastly I think we should end on a Christmas note. I was sleighed (see what I did there?) with a visit to Harvey Nichols with the Favourite Youngest Daughter. She was seriously evaluating a £500 pair of shoes. This worked out at about £50/square inch. I was amazed that a girl who once wore a sparkly top to a school fancy dress day where the pupils were encouraged to dress as farmers was now thinking of spending her hard earned salary on such footwear. Things, as they say, change.
As any fool know then the brand is denoted by the red sole…
I’ve been to two Christmas concerts this year. One was a serious, thoughtfully compiled and complicated affair at The National Centre for Early Music in the centre of York. The other was a group of septuagenarians in Santa hats (and jazz hands) singing beautifully and having a ball at a shopping centre in Leeds. Guess which one worked for me!