British History, Culture & Sports, History of Freedom, Heroes, Inventors, Brits at their, English country scene

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Liberty, lunches, phantoms, floods, and the knights of Runnymede were on our minds last week along with British and American support for the Chawton House Library and its collection of works by British women writers.

Never a dull moment

The last part of The Knight, Never a dull moment defending Magna Carta, has gone up. We were rather surprised it took the knights so long to unite against John’s outrages. However, once motivated they could not be deflected or bought off, and their inspiration came not from revenge but from an ideal. The sixty and seventy-year-old knights were at least as energetic as the young ones.

The idea that Magna Carta is a “grab bag” of complaints is just plain wrong. Granted I had to actually read the document to notice this, but there are many essential rights and freedoms that were further defined in common law, and have stood us all in good stead. Americans believe that the freedoms of the US Constitution and Bill of Rights go right back to Magna Carta, and I see no reason to doubt my compatriots. They have looked pretty closely at the Constitution.

I have always loved boys –their energy and charm and enterprise and their devotion to burning ideals. That is what the best knights had and why I enjoyed writing about them. A precis of Magna Carta appears in this file.


Andrew Lloyd Webber says that he is working on a sequel to Phantom of the Opera. Phantom is now the longest-running Broadway musical of all time. (It broke the record held by Lloyd Webber's Cats on January 9, 2006 with its 7,486th performance.) It's also the highest-grossing entertainment of all time, having earned billions. One might cynically wonder if Webber was inspired by making more money, but we think the phantom has cast a spell over him. . .

When a reporter asked Margaret Mitchell if she would write a sequel to Gone with the Wind, she chirped, “What shall I call it? ‘Back with the Breeze?’" Webber has more to say about his phantom, and we wish him well.


The Emergency Services and the Armed Forces rescued several thousand people endangered by flooding rivers in Britain, and kept waters from breaching essential power stations. Most people in the path of the floods have been brave, stoical and resourceful.

They could all do with a pub lunch, one of those simple pleasures that Britain still provides. We are hopeful that the landlord of of the White Bear has made it down from his roof.

MPs begin to see the light

There has been news that cross-party MPs have begun to see the EU engine bearing down as they lie sleeping on the tracks. We will be watching developments.

Meanwhile, the British people carry on. Chawton House Library is but one British trust among thousands helping people and animals in Britain and the world. A list of them would be hundreds of pages long, and is part of an old tradition of British giving. One of the Magna Carta knights, who barely escaped hanging by John, founded a hospital.

May your week be good.