What a lot can happen in ten days. I watched with disbelief and horror as the riots in London and then in our major cities spread. The disgust at the pointless waste and the vandalism, and then the difficult process of trying to understand (not excuse) and thus try to think of ways that will make a difference and help to heal all the rifts. The solution is probably political – and thus fills me with a certain amount of healthy cynicism. But, with disassociated, disaffected youth in all our cities why then continue closing the one non judgemental place society provides for all – the public libraries. There have been a lot of discussions of this in the press recently – Alan Bennett in the Telegraph and Boyd Tonkin in the Independent have both said it better than me.
Meanwhile the LGA and MLA have reported on their Future Libraries programme – and what dispiriting reading that makes! No recognition of the intrinsic value of libraries – just an exploration of the ways to decimate and cut the library services in the name of economy. There are savings that can be made I am sure but cutting librarians, opening hours, or running libraries with volunteers are not the way forward for any good quality service.
So to finish the week I got away from it all by going to my favourite music festival – Fairport’s Cropredy Convention. This advertises itself as the friendliest festival - and it really is. The village really seems to welcome all it’s annual visitors and lays on breakfast in the village hall or the boating club so that those of us who are infrequent campers can eat well – even if we can’t do the camp-fire cooking bit! Then we all get onto the field and watch the most amazing selection of musicians appear before us. Acts varied from UB40, The Blockheads, the Travelling Band, Horslips and Seasick Steve to folk favourites like Lau, the Shee, Moore Moss Rutter and, of course, Fairport themselves – briefly joined on stage by Ralph McTell too! The sound of 20,000 people enjoying themselves and singing Meet on the Ledge at midnight on Saturday is spine tingling. It was also reassuring to go to a festival where camp-site neighbours will lock the car next to them and put the keys into the owners tent rather than steal anything from the car that had been left with the keys dangling in the door! A caring society does exist – we just need to spread the ethos a little more widely.