Category Archives: Bridgnorth

Humours of an election

Mid-morning. A few days before a general election. Dalrymple and a confederate are at his mansion in one of the prettier small towns — as yet unbesmirched by the socialist planners — of the English midlands. The pair have enjoyed a large traditional English breakfast including beefsteak, washed down with pints of Burgundy (from the well-stocked cellars of Dalrymple’s château near Alès), and are now sharing a very decent bottle of port. There is a knock at the heavy oak door. Dalrymple directs a liveried footman to open it. An opposition candidate, with her unpleasing 20-year-old son in tow, present themselves at the threshold. They have come to canvass the doctor’s vote.

CANDIDATE’S SON: (mutters something incoherent and derogatory about the incumbent Member of Parliament, who is standing for re-election.)

DALRYMPLE: The Member* came out very well in the expenses scandal — he didn’t claim a penny.

CANDIDATE’S SON (assuming that the word ‘rich’ is a moral accusation): That’s because he’s a rich man.

DALRYMPLE: Is that not an argument for having only rich men in parliament? Better a parliament of rich men than one of men who enter parliament to become rich.

[Exeunt, amour propre wounded, the candidate and her son.]

DALRYMPLE (turning to his confederate and chuckling): Poor young man! I was only teasing him a little, and getting him, still a student, to exercise his mind and escape for a moment from the clichés with which that capacious instrument has probably been filled from birth.

CONFEDERATE: An oafish youth, to be sure. But what in fact is your view on the matter, doctor?

DALRYMPLE: Rich men, provided they start their political careers in their 50s at the earliest, are the best suited for political life. They are more likely to accept the rôle of servitor of their nation than master of it.

Canvassing for Votes, Hogarth, Humours of an Election series (1755), Sir John Soane’s Museum

*Dalrymple’s home when he is in England is in Bridgnorth, and his representative in the Commons is Philip Dunne, Member of Parliament for the Ludlow constituency (covering the district of South Shropshire, and the district of Bridgnorth wards of Alveley, Bridgnorth Castle, Bridgnorth East, Bridgnorth Morfe, Bridgnorth West, Broseley East, Broseley West, Claverley, Ditton Priors, Glazeley, Harrington, Highley, Much Wenlock, Morville, Stottesdon, and Worfield). Dunne is one of the 50 ‘saints’ — MPs who minimised their (taxpayer-funded) expenditure. In Dunne’s case, his parliamentary expenses were minimised to zero.

The Victorians did the dead proud

Screen Shot 2016-04-30 at 18.49.45Dalrymple perambulates in the cemetery outside the town where he lives when in England. The cemetery was established, he writes, in the early 1850s

because the churchyards were full to bursting and the Victorians fretted about the unsanitary nature of burial in the middle of towns and cities, as we fret over the deleterious effects of pesticides.

Screen Shot 2016-04-30 at 18.50.01It retains its character,

with a gothic entrance and two gothic chapels, and a winding path between the hills, the slopes of which are sown with sandstone or granite tombstones.

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A most eloquent thanatophobe

Richard Baxter‘s prolificacy, Dalrymple explains, was associated with his poor health.

Though he lived to a good age, he expected from quite early on to die shortly of his many complaints, real or imagined. The fear of imminent death spurred him on in his literary endeavours….[Baxter] inveighed against ‘Drunkards, Swearers, Fornicators, Scoffers at Godliness &c;’….he did not think much of my townspeople [of Bridgnorth], ‘a very ignorant, dead-hearted people’ full of ‘obdurateness’.

Screen Shot 2013-04-03 at 01.31.55

Residence (1640-41) of Baxter at St Leonard’s Close, Bridgnorth. He was assistant minister at the nearby church

A Midland medic warns

The pleasant market town of Bridgnorth, Shropshire

The pleasant market town of Bridgnorth, Shropshire

The onetime specialist at Birmingham City Hospital and at Her Majesty’s Prison, Winson Green, on cancer screening.

Dalrymple has a home in nearby Bridgnorth, Shropshire, though he lives much of the time in France with his French wife. He has explained that Bridgnorth is a zone of low crime except on Friday and Saturday nights, when young people converge on pubs and clubs in the town, ending up in the gutters hog-whimperingly drunk after rutting and brawling.