Virginia Barton

4 July 2015: This weekend


4 July 2015


I know what I’m doing, but what are you doing this weekend?

If you happen to be handy for London, there’s a plethora of amusements: a Red Bull Soapbox Race at the Ally Pally, all things Japanese in North Greenwich, the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, or a “beach” at Camden – 140 tonnes of fine sand plus free deck chairs and beach huts.

Then there’s Wimbledon. Sometimes too hot the eye of heaven shines…and even those who never played the game in their lives will opt for a comfy chair in front of the telly.

BH, who used to have a dandy service and a killing backhand, will be groaning at the monotonous baseline play (“Get to the net, you fool!”) but rejoicing in so many young newcomers with names he at least has no difficulty in pronouncing.




All weekends are special. But some are more special than others. Mangling George O (as in Orwell) puts me in mind of a royal George and the Declaration of Independence where he is mentioned almost en passant. Reading the Declaration today is as powerful as reading the Magna Carta with which it has  much in common, as was pointed out at Runnymede just the other day. It’s very tempting to quote the whole thing, and it certainly bears re-reading, but a sentence must suffice here:

“…We hold these truths to be self-evident,
that all men are created equal,
that they are endowed by their Creator
with certain unalienable Rights,
that among these are Life, Liberty
and the pursuit of Happiness.”


Magnificent ringing words: no wonder the Americans celebrate the Fourth  of July!

I believe they embrace the tradition and remember the message with picnics and barbecues; basketball games, parades, carnivals; and in Brooklyn something called Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest. My knowledge of Independence Day celebrations derives from novels, films, and popular songs – does it show?


G3Poor old Farmer George! He felt the loss of the American colonies personally for the rest of his life.

Since his name is actually recorded for all time in the Declaration, it’s not surprising he felt cut to the quick. A misunderstood king, George Third, I always felt.

Fancy going down in history as the dotty chap who lost America and had a passion for turnips.







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