Message for the meeting of Friday 16th October
Please accept my apologies for absence. I would very much like to be with you this evening, but circumstances do not permit. Therefore I have asked if this statement could be read out.
When I visited in 2004, I only wanted a cup of tea – and a scone – well a Dorset cream tea would have done nicely. But I wanted to enjoy it in the lounge of The Three Cups Hotel where JRR Tolkien spent many of his holidays. You wouldn’t have thought that was too much to ask. You would expect in a well-to-do seaside resort, with a rich literary history, that such a famous inn, with its central location, would be open in the month of August. But it was definitely closed for business.
“Something ought to be done about this”, I thought, but I would not have known where to start were it not for several other characters who I must implicate. I signed a petition complaining about this sad state of affairs, started by Hugh Dunford Wood, in Bob Speer’s Sanctuary Bookshop. Things might have ended there had it not been for Greg Wright who encouraged me to start my blog and web-designer David Moss who helped me. And I suspect that there are a number of people in this room who have a lot to answer for. I would defy anyone with a sense of history to spend more than a day in Lyme Regis without coming under the influence of the literary and political traditions of this place. It is no accident that I, who trained as an engineer, will be writing an article this weekend discussing the influence of GK Chesterton on Tolkien. And if anyone - who knew me before 2004 - is surprised that I am now very interested in politics I would have to say that there is something about the ‘Pearl of the Dorset Coast’ which inspires people and gives them a vision of a better world.
It was a literary connection which first attracted me to the Three Cups Hotel but there is a parallel between the film of the French Lieutenant’s Woman and my involvement in this campaign. Just as the screenplay of John Fowles described real life and film-making influencing each other, so my part-time blogging and interest in the affairs of Lyme have mirrored my growing concern in politics nationally. In fact, I think what the people of Lyme have achieved in organising themselves, and making politicians take notice, should be an inspiration to the whole country. As the issues have been publicised, local people have realised the importance of pubs and hotels to their communities and the tourist trade of the area, and have begun to speak out. Old inns such as The Three Cups also represent something of our national character which must be preserved for the sake of social well-being. And environmental and economic well-being. They must not be left to rot!
It would be easy to get discouraged. But in Lyme you have to put on a brave show, “Rebel Harbour”. Now, in no way am I suggesting the use of force to achieve our ends but I think the Monmouth Rebellion suggests that the status quo need not be accepted and as long as we have democracy, we should look to revive true government of the people, by the people, FOR the people. I think that the campaign to save community pubs and The Three Cups has gone a long way to achieve that. KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK!
P.S. Click here if you would like to read my article on Chesterton and Tolkien.