A little background for those wanting to know the history of the Ashes.
Sorry you asked?
I never cease to be amazed at the lack of PR sense of our Royals (especially the one who runs a PR company). Then there’s Princess Anne, who treats the media with disdain until she wants her daughter to win the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award.
I have a bit of a problem with the Queen’s granddaughter winning this award. OK, I'll accept ‘BBC’ and even ‘of the Year’, but whether 3-day eventing is a ‘Sport’, or Zara Philips a ‘Personality’, I’m not so sure. Certainly not if her acceptance speech is anything to go by. Quote: ‘People asked if I’d prepared a speech. I was – like – no. […] This is amazing – it’s amazing to be here among these amazing sports people.’
After all, it wasn’t as though she had been unlikely to win it: they couldn’t have given it to a footballer after our pathetic showing in the World Cup; or the international rugby team, which has lost 8 of its last 9 games, or a cricketer after – you get the point. But don't you think, for someone who presumably had the benefit of an expensive private education and access to a whole stable of speech-writers, that the ability to pack three ‘amazings’ into a 30-word oration, is, well - amazing?
About four miles from here is a village with the unfortunate name of Poyle, which in the Berkshire accent is a homophone of the popular name for haemorrhoids but a lot easier to spell. In Poyle there’s an orchard dedicated to Richard Cox. He was a retired brewer, and a dabbler - someone who grows apple trees from pips - and he had the distinction of discovering the wonderful Cox’s Orange Pippin.
Richard lived in Poyle, and it was in his own garden that the first Cox's was grown around 1825. As a tribute, the seats in the orchard are placed to spell out his name – this is the ‘O’. (Good job he wasn’t called Fearnley-Whittingstall or there’d be no room left for the apple trees.)
Why am I blogging Richard Cox? Well, Richard was buried in the churchyard of St. Mary the Virgin, in the nearby village of Harmondsworth. This church was built in 1067, the year after the Norman conquest, which means that in 61 years' time it will be 1000 years old.
Except that it won’t if the British Airports Authority gets its way – and it usually does. St. Mary’s and the whole village are scheduled to be bulldozed to make way for yet another runway for Heathrow airport. But surely, you say, BAA would not dig up poor Richard and flatten St. Mary's and 700 homes, just to create yet more noise and pollution? Don’t they care anything for our heritage? Well no actually, because BAA, despite its name, is Spanish. It is the wholly owned subsidiary of Grupo Ferrovial, who, I am sure, don’t give a Cox's Orange Pippin for thousand-year-old churches, pollution or greenhouse gasses.
There's an on-line petition against the whole Heathrow expansion project. I don't suppose it will do any good - but you never know until you try.