A warm wind swept through overcast Downton and across The Solent this morning when I took my usual walk to Hordle Cliff top and back. Sheltered among the hedgerows, perky periwinkle still trails along the ground.
On my return, I wrote the rest of my share of our Christmas cards and put them in the post.
Simon Jenkins, a former editor of The Times, having completed his six year stint, has recently retired as Chairman of The National Trust. It was in association with that body that Profile Books published his ‘A Short History of England’ in 2011. I finished reading it this afternoon. Jenkins has a thorough grasp of the story of how today’s England has emerged, from the Dark Ages of the fifth century, when the Angles arrived from Germany, to the date of publication.
He writes, in a clear, simple, elegant, and often humorous style, of the country’s heroes; villains; triumphs; disasters; conflicts, both internal and external; and its development into global prominence then partial eclipse. He unravels for the lay reader key individuals and events in our history. Anyone, for example, who can clarify ‘The Wars of The Roses’, as he does, is worthy of admiration.
This concise yet comprehensive single volume deserves to be read by anyone with a wish to understand English history. All is intelligible, and such quotations as are included are brief, illustrative, and pithy. Having sometimes thought their use in history books is rather more to fill out the text than to lend it credibility, I found this refreshing.
Naturally the choice of the four personages chosen to adorn the book jacket could be debated, but it is interesting all the same. From left to right we have King Edward III, undoubtedly the greatest mediaeval king; Queen Elizabeth I, who gave her name to a Golden Age; King Charles I, who was executed by his people; and Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill, who saw us through the Second World War.
This evening yesterday’s delicious curry meal was, with its beverages, reprised today. As always, it had improved with keeping.