It turned out that September wasn’t a great deal quieter than recent months, but I’m sure you are fed up of my excuses by now so I’ll just crack on with this month’s review.
The World at Large
The news this month was dominated by the referendum on Scottish Independence. After a long and often tiresome campaign the Scottish people spoke on 18 September and decided to stay with the Union.
It was a resounding defeat for the Yes campaign in that all but 4 local authorities voted No to independence. On the other hand, the voting was very close almost everywhere and 45% of Scots actually voted for independence, which isn’t such a ringing endorsement.
In order to secure the No vote there were a lot of last minute promises from Westminster, resulting in at least as many devolved powers as the ‘Devo Max’ option which was previously debated and rejected as an alternative.
All of this has raised the question of English nationalism and the so called ‘West Lothian Question’: if only Scottish MPs get to vote on issues affecting only Scotland, why should they have the right to vote on issues affecting only the rest of the UK? That seems like a perfectly reasonable stance, but Labour don’t like it as they have a lot of Scottish MPs.
So, a lot of turmoil and it is no doubt going to cost us all dear, but at least we don’t need to design a new flag or work out what to call ourselves – surely no-one could get behind ‘the rest of the UK (rUK)’ as a title!
Elsewhere the state of the world is not getting any better as the months go on. Isis continue to take the prize for world’s worst nutters, with further beheadings. Finally, enough was enough and toward the end of the month America launched airstrikes against Isis militants in Syria, aided by Arab allies. Britain joined in later.
Political difficulties abound as we in the west try to work out which of our Middle Eastern enemies we can ally ourselves with in the common cause of removing the Isis blight. The terror threat in the UK has been raised from “substantial” to “severe”, mostly due to concerns about returning Jihadis.
Meanwhile, Ukraine was forced into an uneasy peace with Russian backed rebels when they decided they were outgunned. Opinions continue to differ on whether Putin is the aggressor, making a land-grab to restore the old USSR, or whether the fault lies with NATO expansion.
And then we had a new conflict with pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong met with tear gas and violence. Such conflicts with the Chinese tend not to end well.
America’s love affair with guns resulted in another well-publicised death this month. A nine year old girl accidentally shot and killed her gun instructor when she lost control of the Uzi sub-machine gun she was shooting. No part of that sentence makes any sense anywhere but in the US.
And finally the country all went into a bit of a twitter when it was announced that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are expecting their second baby. Oh joy, more wall to wall coverage of a royal pregnancy.
September is a month for History in Gloucester, and hopefully a bumper time for sales of my books! This year’s History Festival ran from 6-19 September and included the Gloucester Day parade, celebrating the end of the Siege of Gloucester in 1643 (Gloucester Day actually being 5 September); the Mock Mayor of Barton’s parade; the Heritage Open Days; and a number of other events and talks.
Alongside all of this, the Cathedral hosted Crucible 2, a sculpture exhibition following on from the very successful event in 2010. This is well worth a visit and goes on until the end of October.
Other than that I haven’t been doing a very good job of keeping up with local news, so I imagine I may have missed quite a lot!
It was another busy month for me despite my prediction of a quieter month.
It started brilliantly when I accompanied my wife on a Hawk and Owl Experience at the Barn Owl Centre in Hempsted. This was actually a Christmas present I bought for my wife last year, but we only just got around to doing it. It was a fabulous experience: we got to fly and spend time with a Harris Hawk called Mrs Harris and an Eagle Owl called Turner. It just goes to show how busy I’ve been: I can’t believe that I didn’t blog about it. Maybe I’ll catch up with it sometime over the winter when things are quieter.
On the first weekend of the History Festival I managed to miss most of the events because we went to Crucible2 and got so engrossed we spent far longer than anticipated there. We also got out of Gloucester to attend the Cheltenham Cricket Club Beer Festival on the 6th. This is a great event that happens to be run by a friend of mine, but that aside it is still a nice friendly, relaxed event, so when it doesn’t clash too severely with the Gloucester History events I try to go along.
I managed to get along to some of the Heritage Open Day stuff the following weekend, including running my usual pubs tour. I can’t believe that there are still people wanting to come along and hear me spout on about the history of our pubs, but once again both tours were very well attended.
The other highlight for me was a trip up the Cathedral Tower. I’ve been before, but it is an experience well worth repeating: getting up close and personal with Great Peter, the Cathedral’s large bell, and enjoying the views from the highest point in the city.
On the Sunday I stayed in town for the evening to see a very intimate concert by Australian country singer Aleyce Simmonds at the Cross Keys. This was the first of their “In Concert” events – I hope there will be more.
The following weekend we went off to Donnington Park to see the Kickback custom bike show, which was a great event. It was quite small, but all the better for that I think. The bikes were of very high quality and we got to meet Henry Cole from the TV series World’s Greatest Motorcycle Rides and The Motorbike Show.
The following weekend saw a party for one of our friends who moved onto the wrong side of 50, and then on the Sunday I went on a CAMRA trip to the Ordnance City Brewery. This was a trip laid on as a thank you to helpers at the beer festival back in April, and it was a great day! We travelled on an old bus courtesy of the Stroud RE bus group. Once we arrived it was quickly apparent that the brewery was not the major attraction: there were tanks that we got to have a ride in and guns that we got to play with! That’s another blog that I really must get around to writing.
Another very poor month for blogging with a pitiful 5 blogs posted. Despite this I still managed to record my third highest hit rate ever! I think this may be largely down to the fact that two of my blogs, Kickback and Crucible2, were very photograph heavy, so resulted in a lot of clicks each.
Four of the five blogs managed to get into the top ten for the month, and to be fair the fifth, Not Good at Sharing, only went out on 30 September so hasn’t really had much chance. The same thing happened last month with my blog on the ALS ice bucket challenge “Getting Wet and Cold for Charity” which managed to get into the top 10 this month.
So that’s it for another month: only another 3 of these to do and the year will be over and I can call it a day….