I was reminded of this when I watched the latest film interpretation of the Thomas Hardy novel, "Far from the Madding Crowd", the one starring Carey Mulligan and Michael Sheen. (I don't usually remember the names of film stars so I had to look it up here: Wikipedia article about the film).
In the film the two of them sang a charming duet that I link to: Let no man steal your thyme
I sat there in the cinema thinking about the use of this song, the way it encapsulated the feeling of lost opportunities, the way that the natural order of things can be twisted by deceit and selfishness, that the strength of a person can ebb away because of mistreatment, the chances of them recovering what they have lost being dependent on luck and the constancy of those who surround them.
A few days later I sat at my desk and started to write this post but I got no farther than the title so left it as a draft "may be" type of idea ........... and so this post has lingered on my machine, each day needing to be completed yet each day I have left it as a draft and moved on to some other topic. Today though I feel it is time to finish this post. Why ........... because looking back over the blog output (this will be the 51st post) I can see a recurring theme, a thread that runs through all the disparate topics. BelperStuff time after time comments on the decisions made by politicians and how those decisions affect lives. How our elected representatives make decisions based on their own dogma and prejudice, ignoring expert opinion in the misguided belief that even if the evidence does not support their position somehow they are still in the right. I am not just thinking of ODS when he was asked to back up his uninformed comments, that he said, "I know what I know". Such stupid arrogance runs right through this government. For example .................
"This is a budget for working people"
To make such an assertion when all the evidence points to a entirely different conclusion:
It is deceits such as this that serve to propagate falsehoods, confuse and confound, fanning a belief that they are on the side of the poor who wish to better themselves when in reality they condemn those same people to years and decades of yet more poverty. They speak of hope when in reality they are fueling despair.
This is why "Let no Man Steal Your Thyme" is exactly the right title for this post. The Tories impoverish the lives of our children, deny opportunities for our young adults, condemn an increasing number of families to a dependence on below subsistence level jobs ............. take away years of development and achievement that should be a birthright in this country ........... in any country.
Watching Far from the Madding Crowd my mind strayed to the Thatcher years; something struck a chord. There are pit villages that even today are mere ghosts of what they once were, satellites of towns that are still blighted by the poverty that was a consequence of mine closures. There are still streets of empty abandoned houses, many of them bought by the miners under the Thatcher right to buy wheeze. The mines closed and with no alternative work the mortgage payments fell into arrears. The only alternative for many was to pack up and leave, the last act being to post the house keys through the letterboxes of the homes they had been tricked into buying. How long did it take for those families to recover? How many years of toil did it take before they once again felt secure and could shake of the blight of a bad credit rating? These years were stolen from them by uncaring, unthinking politicians who were hell bent on following their own beliefs, their own dogma even though there was ample evidence to show them that they were wrong.
It can take years of hardship and lost opportunities before we fully understand the true effect of ill judged political decisions. Why is it that these people fail to heed the lessons of history and instead choose to believe in their own infallibility? What they decide today affects people for years to come. The use of this folk song's lyrics as a metaphor for the consequences of believing the honeyed words of Tories is very apt: Link to the lyrics of the song
Let No Man Steal Your Thyme
As a cultural conclusion to this piece I offer you these alternatives:
A version by Pentangle featuring John Renbourn who I was delighted to see playing at the Queen's Head some years ago. Sadly, he died this year.
A haunting version by Anne Briggs. It was Anne Briggs who made this song so popular in the folk world. Sort of a local as she originates from Beeston.
A clip from the 1967 film featuring Julie Christie This film followed the book more closely, more true to life than the latest film. They also chose a different folk song.