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Why I like living in England

Yesterday the day dawned bright for February. I put on my running shoes and went out to do my training run in the Hampshire countryside. The lanes were muddy with the mud tempered by an early morning frost. The birds were up before me, and their song alone would lift a person’s heart. Little wrens repeatedly darted across the lanes, and a robin looked with apparent interest from a twig. I met two dogs, and both of them smiled in that friendly way that dogs do. One of them was with its mistress, and she smiled, too. I exchanged friendly nods with a boy walking to school in his uniform. I went several miles without seeing any litter. I ran past the village store, which was opening for business with a friendly bustle of people going in and out. The red phone box next to it had no graffiti. All the glass was intact, and I didn’t see any unpleasant advertisements. In short, despite everything I had read, the English countryside, or at least the south Hampshire part of it, seemed in good heart.

Then the train to London. The man who sold me the ticket was very pleasant. The train was on time and clean and I had a seat. London was delightful in the winter sunshine. Every corner of the globe seemed to be on Westminster Bridge taking photographs of their loved ones with the Houses of Parliament as a backdrop. The taxi driver did strike a note of caution – the renowned Knowledge that London taxi drivers are required to have, has, according to him, made it difficult for Muslim taxi drivers to get a license, so the Mayor has seen fit to give away licenses to members of that particular religion. He drove me to the headquarters of Open Europe, which is running a campaign called I want a referendum.com, to demand the referendum on the EU’s Lisbon constitutional treaty that all three British parties promised voters, but have so far failed to deliver. A hive of activity in their offices was encouraging. It did appear that the capital was in good heart. Even though dark forces have been stirring, it is still very pleasant living in England.

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