I wish I had written Gerry Hassan's
piece about the 'Golden Age' of Downton Abbey
. I went to Oxford in 1970, as one of the last of the generation who went there from the working class (as it then was – there was work for families like mine) and quickly realised that the self-styled aristocracy were never going to let people like me muscle in on their act.
When I go political canvassing today, what is majorly disappointing is the number of young people who claim to have no interest in politics, so enabling the Rees-Moggs and co of this world to retain their power bases and continue to run the UK for their own benefit. For people like him, the 'Golden Age' never went away, leaving millions of the poor to continue to make it happen for the rich – the poor who will never be able to aspire to anything better. Yet we have the power to change things. We have to take back that power by getting involved, especially our young people.
Dr Mary Brown
What a pity Gerry Hassan, in his criticism of the film Downton Abbey
, failed to point out that one good aspect was the manners shown in both the television series and the film. They are sadly lacking in life today. But perhaps he would opine that any good manners from below stairs staff were because they were indentured servants?
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
entertaining romp in an alternative universe was a welcome diversion from current British realities. It also sparked my memories of 2014 and Scotland's independence referendum, which has gained almost mythical status, especially for those seeking another one. Oddly enough, in my experience, most who now clamour for indyref2 did precious little in the first one.
The Yes campaign officially kicked off in May 2012, and it was a long hard haul for some of us, regularly chapping doors on frosty winter evenings and cold Saturday forenoons. Our numbers were small, attitudes stoical, and determination strong. It initially felt like a lost cause, but momentum kept building, and even the weather improved. A tome of a white paper was published, which outlined how an independent Scotland could function, and a freewheeling campaign snowballed.
What contrasts so much with the present is that the zeitgeist was one of hope not despair, of exercising initiative rather than conforming. We were newly experiencing the previously unexplored territory that was actually our own property, and sensing that with sufficient effort, anything was achievable. The British establishment was caught in the constitutional headlights, showing up not only its superficial inadequacies, but also the whimsical, self-serving and ultimately fictitious foundations.
A stand-out recollection for me is not attending the 2014 Braemar Gathering (where wearing Yes badges was banned), but manning a Yes stall just outside the games park entrance. The Union-Jackery was overwhelming, and the atmosphere could have been oppressive had it not been for discreet smiles and winks and the occasional thumbs up from uniformed attendees and others. Overseas visitors thronged to us, and cleaned out our stock of badges, stickers and saltire flags.
Five years on, and a strange conservatism grips the land. The great burst of creative thought that developed and expanded into a huge conversation during the latter stages of the Yes campaign was exhilarating and enlightening. Folk realised they could think and act for themselves, and not be spoon-fed gibberish by an oligarchy that controls the British media and heavily influences many institutions. A fully democratic, independent Scotland could be one of the stars in a reforming galaxy of nations.
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