King Canute

Barton on SeaUnstable cliff signCliff and beach hutsDogs

Runner 1Runner 2After a shopping trip to Lidl in Old Milton this morning, Jackie deposited me alongside the Beachcomber Cafe. Leaving the flat green open space at Barton on Sea, where romped dogs, including two who found an even smaller one to play with, I walked back along the crumbling and undulating cliff top which severely tested the declining flexibility of my lower limbs.

Crumbling footpathCyclist and walkersCyclist 1Cyclist 2Walker

At one time I might have joined the runners along this route, but never the cyclists. Even some of the walkers went where I would fear to tread.

In 2011, according to Kathryn Westcott on BBC News, ‘MP Frank Field warned David Cameron to “stop being King Canute” if he wanted to avoid being “overwhelmed by the incoming tide of local authority cuts”.’ This able, eleventh century Danish King of England is as misquoted as Topsy, which I explained on September 5th, 2012. He is believed to have been so proud that he thought his command could hold back the tide.

According to J.P. Somerville: ‘this story was first recorded in Henry of Huntingdon’s twelfth-century Chronicle of the history of England. In fact, Henry’s account was rather a testimony to Canute’s good sense and Christian humility – not his vainglory.’

Henry wrote: ‘he commanded that his chair should be set on the shore, when the tide began to rise. And then he spoke to the rising sea saying “You are part of my dominion, and the ground that I am seated upon is mine, nor has anyone disobeyed my orders with impunity. Therefore, I order you not to rise onto my land, nor to wet the clothes or body of your Lord”. But the sea carried on rising as usual without any reverence for his person, and soaked his feet and legs. Then he moving away said:  “All the inhabitants of the world should know that the power of kings is vain and trivial, and that none is worthy the name of king but He whose command the heaven, earth and sea obey by eternal laws”. Therefore King Cnut never afterwards placed the crown on his head, but above a picture of the Lord nailed to the cross, turning it forever into a means to praise God, the great king.  By whose mercy may the soul of King Cnut enjoy peace’.

Ground investigation sign

It is not the tide that New Forest District Council is attempting to stem, but the effects of the wind and the rain which are slowly eroding the cliff along this part of the Hampshire coast. The results of the ground investigation and monitoring project, it seems to me, may result in the golf course and adjacent farmers parting with some of their terrain if we are to retain a footpath into the next century.

This evening we enjoyed Sunday Roasts at The Plough Inn, Tiptoe. My choice was lamb; Jackie’s was pork. She drank Becks and I drank Doom Bar. As so often the case there, neither of us needed a dessert.