I had a productive day, and then had a delicious dinner at Wann Izakaya (Mondays are all-day happy hour!!!) so I’ll limit myself to just this, this evening:

Michael Gove, Conservative MP for Surrey Heath, in The Times:

[T]he whole idea of county distinctions has been eroded in our lifetimes. It used to be the case that county identities were almost the primary identity of most Englishmen and women. The Georgian poet, Edward Thomas, said he wanted to write in the accents of a Surrey peasant, that was a hundred years ago, and George Crabbe is a Suffolk writer before he’s anything. But as we know from The Times letters page, traditional county identities and postcodes (anyone for Hants, let alone Salop) are fading from the consciousness of many.

I was struck, for example, when I was in South Lakeland, as its now called, how faint was the memory of Westmorland in the minds of anyone outside its historic boundaries. When I told friends that that was where I was staying, most had never heard of it. I was also surprised to read of Frank Field, the quite wonderful MP for Birkenhead, being described in this paper as a member of the Lancashire mafia. The last time I looked Birkenhead sat where it had always sat, at the top of the Wirral peninsula in the historic county of Cheshire.

People know whom they pay their council tax to and the name of their police force. But in a country where there are local authorities called Three Rivers and police forces called Thames Valley or West Mercia then counties occupy less mental, and emotional, space than ever. I find it sad that we think less and less of Shropshire ankles or Kincardineshire necks (all that sun at harvest) or Westmorland knees (rendered knobbly by the fells) and more and more of Brontë Country or the Borders or the M4 corridor or other manufactured locations. But then I do possess an Aberdeenshire squint – things often seem better when you’re looking backwards.

ninme shakes her fist