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Leo Tolstoy wrote a short story - ‘How Much Land Does A Man Need?’- of a man who won a prize of as much land as he can claim by marking it as he walks from landmark to landmark. The time given was within one day from sunrise to sundown. He allows himself to be driven by greed. At sundown, when he arrives back at the place where he started, he collapses. Tolstoy answers his own question in the title at the conclusion of the story. Readers may be familiar if not with the story, then with the answer.

Is this the motivation and ultimate effect of the developers? In life, land and possessions are necessary; but do they need to cause conflict; in the nature and procedures of our planning system and accountability is it unavoidable? Seeing the encroachment of housing on land locally and further afield, and bearing in mind that there are around 200,000 empty properties within this country it begs the question who is leading who?

Media people consider new years resolutions to be a matter worthy of mention, usually about themselves. January, the first month of the year is derived from the Roman god Janus. Janus was a two headed god - looking backward and forward. New year resolutions take heart and confidence from looking forward hoping to remedy the shortcomings of the past year. It has come to my notice that perhaps a more realistic if less ambitious approach is a resolution for January (a dry month, chocolate fasting, swear box, bedtime stories; the list could be endless!)

The overriding memory from our family is that if resolutions were mentioned it produced a chorus of laughter, which had quite a demoralising effect, not very encouraging for a Janus follower. Well, Janus is a fictional character, like most resolutions!

Divine intervention would have been welcome for those who came to the Christmas services at St Wilfrid’s. The church boiler had decided to take advantage of the holiday season and have a rest. Nowadays, to all of us used to warm homes, this was a chilling experience but for many centuries people came to this and other churches with only the warmth of their bodies and lusty singing! Never mind, we still have the beast from the east to look forward to!

Issue 408
January 2019

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