Magna cum laude


A man of so little imagination he married successively two Countesses both named Isabella, King John seems England’s unwitting bogey man ever since Robin-Hood-Robin-Hood went Riding-through-the-Glen.

Today marks the anniversary of an event beside the Thames which occurred 800 years ago. The Cookham-Windsor-Runnymead stretch of the River is ridiculously lovely. Bucolic, gentle, evocative of the intoxicating romance to which we attribute notions of heraldic heroism and courtly charm. Is it fanciful to suppose John’s sealed assent demanded by the Barons would have been so markedly forthcoming had not they been beguiled by their surroundings? [’ Course it is, Ed]

Six hundred years [and three days] later, across la manche one can ponder how dearly Wellington’s men would have chosen a bloodless meadow over their Belgium bog to magnify with honour their louder claim to a just cause.

Why trouble us with this, we hear you wail?

Well, it is to reflect in what way our surroundings inform action. Could there exist a causal connection between nature’s grace and natural co-operation? Were we to spend more time in the open air of a sunny day, would it recycle our hot air and ventilate thinking more usefully?