To Malmesbury for the simply superb funeral and memorial service for Sir Roger Scruton. That lovely poem, The Darkening Thrush by Thomas Hardy: “I leant upon a coppice gate, When Frost was spectre-grey…”; Janacek’s Moravian folk song, Laska (Love) superbly sung by Kristi Bryson; TS Elliot’s Little Gidding (“We shall not cease from exploration…”) I held it all together pretty well until the inexpressibly beautiful Schubert Ave Maria, when I was surprised to see tears cascading down my black silk tie….
Am proud to show off Hannah Twynnoy’s grave to Michael Gove and Bishop Richard Chartres on the way through the Abbey churchyard. “In bloom of Life, She'ssnatch’d from hence,She had not room to make defence; For Tyger fierce Took Life away. And here she lies In a bed of Clay, Until the Resurrection Day.” It commemorates the serving girl eaten by a visiting circus tiger to the Malmesbury innin 1703 …. Strollover to the Town Hall for a packed glass of wine in the Hobbes Parlour. How appropriate to remember one great Malmesbury philosopher in a room dedicated to another, Thomas Hobbes.
Matt and Carole Gould from Calne are bravely fighting to strengthen penalties for knife crime in memory of their lovely daughter so tragically murdered last year. The Goulds came in to see Home Secretary Priti Patel about it last year, and now, having raised the very lenient 12-year sentence on her murderer with Rob Buckland the Lord Chancellor in the House, I am glad to arrange a meeting with him for them. I am especially impressed by a group of Ellie’s school friends who came to see me last week with some very practical suggestions to try to prevent such a tragedy recurring- basic self-defence as a standard part of the curriculum, for example.
Colerne Village Hall has much to celebrate- both its constant rebuilding and restoration, and the very many local groups which meet there. Glad to have a stroll round and to meet them all. An hour passed celebrating the local strength which RogerScruton so passionately supported. I feel like ‘leaning upon the coppice gate’ on the way out, not only to relieve my hip which has seized up after an hour in the village hall.To those who have noticed me hobbling around with a stick (my Father’s old Scottish cromach), all it is is a dodgy hip, which the lovely NHS promise to replace within a month or two. Too much treading of the streets in the General Election, I expect. Those who have had the operation tell me it’s wonderful, and I have to admit I can hardly wait.
Standing up for a long time is a particular problem which makes a debate I call on Tuesday in Parliament a particularchallenge. I manage to stand for the 30 minutes which my intro speech takes, but I am glad to collapse back on to the green leather benches. It’s a 1.5-hourdebatecommemorating the 200thanniversaryof the first sighting of the Antarctic continent, and the 60th anniversary of the AntarcticTreaty. There are a great many issues in the frozen South, but of course the greatest of all is Climate Change, and the rapid melting of the ice cap.
As a result of all of that, I am not sure that I am quite the dashing young Lochinvar I imagine myself to be when I propose the toast “The Lassies” in the Caledonian Club Burns Supper that evening.