19 June 2016

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No running to the sea for me this time. Instead, a trip to the forest. Up Bradley Hill, behind Blakeney in the Forest of Dean. A reunion of old friends, a celebration of new beginnings – of houses, of lives, of careers – a temporary reconnection with youthful selves over wine, cheese, fire and glitter balls. New connections, too, as overlapping networks are enacted around the BBQ. We talked of witch circles, the Severn, the EU referendum and the madness of the Brexit campaign. (An excellent edition of The Lancet makes a ‘strong and persuasive case for the UK to remain in the EU, not least for the acquisition of critical EU funding for biomedical research, and in the way that the sharing of good practice in cancer and dementia care from Europe impacts positively on health within the UK’). We watched the changing light on the hill beyond the house, picking out different features in this landscape – its pretty pastoral in no small part shaped by European policies and subsidies.

I rarely spend time in this part of the world, despite its proximity to Bristol. On the drive home this afternoon I didn’t think about the Roman Villa or ancient woodlands or Offa’s Dyke. I thought mainly about Dennis Potter’s 1986 TV musical drama The Singing Detective and how I really ought to watch it again. But I can no longer watch it on a 4:3 aspect ratio cathode ray tube television set. And it’s not the same on my computer screen as it was on my Canadian TV, broadcast on PBS, transcoded from PAL to NTSC. Until I arrived in the UK in 1991, I really did think that all the colours here were muted browns, blues, greys and greens. And this afternoon YouTube offered me this little bit of oral history, which nicely links the heritages of TV and Forest.

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