Welcome to February The Roman month Februarius was named after the Latin term ‘februum’, which means purification, via the purification ritual ‘Februa’ held on February 15 (full moon) in the old lunar Roman calendar - not a lot of people know that. There is evidence of the existence of a Roman temple in Weycock Field in the parish, by the railway tracks at Weycock Bridge. Who knows what might have been going on to purify the residents of our village in Roman times. It’s probably better that we don’t.
The good thing about the arrival of February is that spring is now just around the corner to take us once again out of our winter torpor and towards the joys of warm sunshine, fresh flowers, mown grass and all the joys of another English summer in our lovely parish.
Thinking of past invaders, having absorbed the Romans we Brits later had to absorb the French after Harold Hardrada suffered an eyeful of arrow at Hastings in 1066, poor fellow. William the Conquerer changed the course of England’s history and this assault was captured in the Bayeaux Tapestry. Made in Canterbury, this interesting length of cloth was actually an embroidery rather than a tapestry. Now we are in the 21st Century and once again having a period of friction with our continental neighbours, President Macron of France, a recent patron of The Royal Oak at nearby Paley Street, has chosen, with a fine sense of irony, to lend us their tapestry in 2022. It isn’t yet known where the tapestry will be exhibited, but The Neville Hall would make a splendid location. It would bring wealth to the village from mass tourism just after the 3,500 new houses from Milley Road to Ruscombe and the large sparkling new Crossrail train station have been completed within walking distance of the display. Wait a minute - perhaps not.
On second thoughts, it might be better if we returned the compliment if the tapestry was to be brought to England on the Eurostar to Waterloo, in memory of The Duke of Wellington, from where it could be carefully shipped up to Blenheim Palace for display. It has plenty of parking spaces for cars and coaches so that visitors would be able to enjoy the tapestry alongside the Duke of Marlborough’s interesting tours of Blenheim, Ramilles, Oudinaarde and Malplaquet where the French team didn’t do so well. We need a well balanced relationship with our European friends after all and we have saved the French team on a couple of more recent unpleasant occasions. All of this would surely deter Les Français from their real objective to steal a lot of business from the City of London - perhaps not.