Tag Archives: real england

Real England, Work, Recession and Allotments

Phew. It’s all go at the moment. I feel like my todo list fills up every morning and my head is buzzing til I lay it on my pillow at night. Still despite the stresses, I’m having a great time with everything and I’m never going to complain about being out of the misery of the 9-5.

This week I have been mainly getting people to fill in my questionnaires which are a component of my primary research for my thesis. It’s not been as bad as I feared. The farmer’s market was a saviour for getting allotment holders as a good proportion of them visited it. I also dropped a good amount off at the 3 allotment sites nearest to me and the response back through the post has been encouraging. I also took a trip to Newton allotments near West Kirby to chat to a lady involved in the Transition West Kirby movement. That also bagged me a few responses.

I was more worried however about “non-allotment” people. I decided to randomly poll households in the “030B Lower Layer Super Output Area” which is basically the postcode area used for ONS statistics around my house. There were about 700 households so I randomly put surveys through 150 household’s doors. I’d received 86 back this morning so I think thats a pretty good response rate. Next I’ve got to type it all in to some sampling software and analyse it which isn’t going to be too much fun….

Anyway, the main purpose of this post was to extoll the latest book I’ve just finished; namely Real England by Paul Kingsnorth. I don’t know what it was about it, but it struck a real chord with everything I’ve been thinking and doing to some extent. It talks about how society in England is slowly becoming homogenised. All the usual suspects are mentioned; food, shops, pubs, farming. I found the tales of Paul’s travels around the country incredibly powerful. I’d recommend you all put this book on your Christmas list (if you have one this year…) or get it out the library!

I suppose this book links in with the current economic situation. We are told we need more stimulus, cuts in interest rates, more consumption. But when it comes down to it, all these things are what did the damage in the first place. Since I quit my job 18 months ago I wanted to get out of the system to some extent. I don’t believe in becoming a hermit and living in a cave though, just that the small differences you can do personally do actually make a difference. Meeting people on allotments during my study has once again made me realise that for 20 hours a week, all these people need is a patch of soil and they are content. Perhaps this is the ultimate problem. Namely if too many people start doing this there will be nothing to tax and nobody will need to buy as much. Oh dear it sounds like I’m becoming some sort of libertarian! I think the issues transgress political lines actually (as mentioned in Real England). We just need to stop doing as much “stuff” which ultimately damages the planet and find a path in life which you enjoy.

His blog links to a Richard Wilson‘s with whom he did a debate at the Anarchist’s bookfair in Edinburgh. I’ve not heard about this book, “Don’t get fooled again”, but it seems pretty interesting and will definitely be on my travel reading list. But for now I ought to be reading about the History of Allotments, it’s landscape and culture… It’s fascinating stuff I assure you.

This brings me to my final link. I just read a small document entitled “Work and the Art of Living”, by Roman Kraznaric. I suggest you head off to his website now and download it! He’s talking about what your purpose in life is; how the freedom we have now means it’s almost even more difficult now to know what to do in life. I really suggest you read it. My favourite bit was him suggesting to write your own obituary this evening and see if what you are currently doing (career, job, hobbies, talents etc) matches up to what you expect to think about your life when you are old and decrepid!

Remember you only get one life. Don’t waste it!