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Maturing nicely!

2 June 2011

I recently spent an agreeable evening in an East Sussex country house hotel set in 1000 acres of parkland. Only six bedrooms with just one couple staying; unfortunately I disturbed their romantic tète a tète dinner in the beautiful, oak panelled, medieval dining room. They were escaping young children and enjoying an anniversary break while Granny did the honours looking after the ankle biters back home. Where would young couples be without Grannies to the rescue?

This brings to one my favourite themes of why family units are such important binding mechanisms that help grow children into considerate citizens and sustain loyal relationships. They also foster love and respect for older family members.  In many southern European countries, families are much more tolerant about old age; accommodating ancient oldies and not going to the UK de-fault position of shoving the aged into old folk’s homes at the first sign of dribbling or damp cushions.

The old buffer owner of my country house stay was well into his eighties but nimbly processed my credit card but admitted he had to give up shooting as he had become a bit slow getting to his peg. His family had owned the house for over 500 years and he clearly was not giving it up now. Various generations of his family were employed around the property from chef to gardener making the most of their home grown produce in feeding the guests with delicious fruits, vegetables, herbs and preserves. It reminded of a family run hotel I stay on Lake Lugarno, Italy that is run by three generations of the same family and who have had the place for over 100 years. One feels like an old family friend on every visit and this familiarity is both welcoming and very restful.

Brighton Belles

Plenty of belles and boys in evidence disporting themselves on Brighton beach in unseasonably warm April weather. The beach volley ball pitch (or is it a court?) was busy and a distinctly continental atmosphere pervaded. The lazy ones like me sat under an umbrella with a copy of the Guardian (what else in Brighton!) and sucked on a cold continental beer at hot continental prices. I was impressed with Brighton’s cycle lanes, the famous Pavilion and eclectic inhabitants. I was unimpressed by the volumes of traffic and sky-high parking charges. Whilst there, some form of anarchist’s march was underway, ‘Capitalism is Pants’ read one banner as they gently progressed their through the main thoroughfares of Brighton accompanied by the whole of Sussex’s police force – nearly as many uniforms, mounted police, bikes and blood wagons as marchers. A completely disproportionate response, I guess there must have been worries about them occupying an Oxfam shop!

The Secretary of State for Education

The BBC education correspondent was not pleased when I interrupted Michael Gove outside the Head Teacher’s Brighton conference as he was about to be interviewed for the telly cameras. After shaking hands and briefly chatting about the Coalition’s welcome support for music education funding he kindly dropped by my client’s stand in the nearby exhibition hall for a ‘PR moment’ and grip’n grin with colleagues. Pictures were taken and brief discussions held. Mission accomplished but BBC journo alienated!

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