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May 05

“shrewsbury votes the way the country votes”

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on sunday sistrah becky and i took dad down south and west, to the stiperstones, with its rocky outcrops, past the abandoned leadmine at snailbeach: he would lead student field trips out here fortnightly at least, while he was still teaching, though none of us have visited for years. he’s wheelchair-bound now, so we didn’t attempt the ridge, just the well-kept path from the highest car park, off round the side of the hill, for the view through the haze across the shropshire-cheshire plain, while nearby “talking fence posts” (you wind them up and a little voice talks from a speaker!) poshly unfolded fragments of the tale of WILD EDRIC and LADY GODDA harrying the normans

on the way across the county we passed every kind of election poster, left, right and just strange: on the stiperstones itself, the highest – right before the car park, on a local farmer’s land presumably – was a little bleat from ukip about not letting europe take control, plump frightened yeomen of the shire taking a stand against distant mordor

has any shrewsbury issue been of national significance since 1403, when owen glendower and lord percy percy henry percy were trounced? i’d say “i doubt it” but in contrary midlands dialect this means “i believe so”! plus also local lore – and i think actual real election science fact – sees shrewsbury and atcham as a weathervane constituency: its current MP, not standing again, defected from lab to lib-dem a couple of years back. actually the names of the main contenders this time suggest that the MORDORISTS HAVE WON: con = DANIEL KAWCZYNSKI (who is even taller than jess = 6’8″, and seems always to be photographed awkwardly half sittin down so as not to resemble an monstrous ogre EATIN the baby he is tryin to kiss); while lab = secret supergalactic agent MIKE ION….

by sight, much of shropshire remains nestled verdant yokel feudalism, unchanged since domesday, but actually it is crisscrossed with v.ancient ethnic fractures and subterranean social and cultural turmoil: ie telford is one of the most recent new towns w. a thriving japanese community, and in one of the newer estates on the south west side of shrewsbury there is a chinese takeaway boldly titled NEW GREAT WALL OF CHINA! and in the quiet little CofE primary school i attended 1965-68, the teams were named for protestant martyrs burnt at the stake by Queen Mary: latimer, cranmer, ridley and hooper!!

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