I was out walking the dogs this morning in an out-of-the-way wood I visit occasionally.

It’s a great spot with a lovely freshwater pond in the middle, but too inaccessible for me to go on a regular basis.

I was halfway round the pond when I came across a couple sitting on the bank wrapped in heavy winter coats.

As it was the hottest day of the year I asked if they were all right.

Apparently they had been camping there overnight hence the winter coats.

Looking at their meagre possessions ‘camping’ hardly seemed a suitable description especially as there was no sign of a tent.

The gentleman clearly had mobility problems and I asked how they managed to get there to which he replied ‘we walked’.

Where they had walked from he didn’t say but it must have taken one hell of an effort.

His partner explained that it was her idea for them to go on ‘holiday’ as the weather was so nice.

They asked for nothing and seemed to be just enjoying the tranquillity so I left them promising to come by the following morning to check if they were okay.

Driving home I realised the nearest shop was miles away and they had neither transport nor any visible sign of provisions.

As soon as I got home I made a picnic with sandwiches crisps, fruit and cold drinks.

I packed it in a large freezer bag and took it straight back to the wood where I found them happily dangling their feet in the pond.

They were delighted though I’m not sure if it was by the picnic or the fact someone cared.

It costs me very little but it obviously meant a lot to them.

It’s good to remember that while we agonise over whether to holiday in Europe or take the kids to Florida there are people out there for whom sleeping in a wood with nothing more than a winter coat is the highlight of their summer.

We need to recognise that lest we become a nation of whimpering narcissists.  



When Jo Swinson, the newly-appointed leader of the Lib Dems, made her victory speech she promised her followers ‘I will do everything I can to stop Brexit’, which I found rather alarming.

Should Ms Swinson win a General Election I suspect she would scream from the rafters if the Opposition promised to do everything in their power to stop her forming a government.

Lib Dems throughout the country would be outraged and they would be right.

Either we accept democracy or we have anarchy.

It matters not whether you like Ms Swinson’s politics or not.

You may think they are a recipe for ruination but if she wins the election we must accept the result.

That is the principle by which we have lived for centuries saving the UK from uprising and turmoil.

If Ms Swinson cannot accept that I suggest she makes way for a leader who believes in democracy.



If there was a World Cup for being offended I’d say England would win it every time, in fact they’d probably just let us keep it.

I marvel at our ingenuity to create ways in which to be offended.

We’re not just offended for ourselves…that’s not enough.

We get offended on behalf of other people who are not in the least offended.

People who never considered being offended are now having it explained why they should take offence.

It’s become the national pastime of many English residents to encourage others to be as offended as they are.

When we run out of current ideas for taking offence we delve into our history looking for ways to portray ourselves as insufferable despots.

Inferring that a Scotsman is mean with money is sure to attract  racist accusations and heaven help anyone who calls an Irishman Paddy.

So it was rather interesting when I was in a pub the other evening celebrating with a group of Australians who were having some kind of reunion.

“Will you get me another drink,” one of them shouted to his friend at the bar.

“I’m as dry as a Pommy’s towel.”

Everyone howled with laughter.

“What does dry as a Pommy’s towel mean?” I asked.

“It’s a joke on the English, mate for not being too fond of soap and water.”

Perfect, just what I needed to tell my eternally-offended neighbours.

At last they would have some reason to defend English sensibilities.

If it was not acceptable to make fun of a Scotsman’s money management I imagined they would be incandescent at a joke suggesting that English people went unwashed.

I was wrong… they laughed like drains.

Apparently their sense of humour amazingly returns when the English are being ridiculed only to disappear the moment you suggest Taffy should buy the next round.

Email vicbarlow@icloud.com


By Guardian columnist Vic Barlow