Even beauty spots can be tarnished by unthinking people

Peter Rhodes on a perfect day, a spoiled view and those tangled American values

Chipping Campden
Chipping Campden

Dover's Hill rises above Chipping Campden. On a clear day you can see the Malvern Hills, the Vale of Evesham and David Cameron. Here, with the blue, blue sky stretching cloudless from horizon to shimmering horizon, you can even see bits of Wales.

And then, amid the glory of a perfect day, a plume of oily black smoke rose, suddenly curling towards the heavens like a stain on a blameless soul. I think I know what it was because some years ago I saw an identical plume despoiling a glen in Scotland and made a diversion to investigate. That was when I learned that, no matter how immaculate a landscape is, there's always one git who thinks it's a great day for burning some old tyres.

We paused to take some holiday snaps although, now that my hair bleaches white in the sun, I am less keen on these than I used to be. Somehow in the nano-second click of the shutter you turn into Mr Pastry.

The cemetery in Chipping Campden is a huge and fascinating place to ponder the beauty of life and the uncertainty of death, “the Great Perhaps,” as Kipling called it. Some of the headstones lean forward and others backward and very few are vertical. Those stones resemble a bunch of old chaps, hands on hips, rocking back and forth with laughter. Pause for thought.

Of course, in a perfect world we would not celebrate this endless summer. As responsible, intelligent and dutifully scared citizens we should see it as a harbinger of the doom to come as the thermometers explode and the bodies are piled high in the streets.

But the heatwave lasted only two days, the thousands of dead didn't materialise and most of the weather has been the sort of stuff people gladly pay for in Greece or Spain. I bet we remember the summer of '22 fondly.

Then back down Dover's Hill and into the real world of TV news where Nancy Pelosi is banging on about the “shared values” binding the US to Taiwan. Really? Given that the States is split right down the middle on almost every issue from abortion to gun control, carbon emissions and election fraud, does anyone know what American values are these days?

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