This Saturdaygone - 7 June - I went to Midsomer Common in the morning, where sound-stages, exhibitions and stalls were being set up for Strawberry Fair.
I met with Richard Normington (right) of Freedom-1215: the number refers to the date the Magna Carta was signed, ensuring key freedoms such as protection from the then Crown's omnipotence, judicial rights, and a full pint of beer.
As we went round the ground looking for some friends, I was struck by the number of stalls advertising legal herbal highs and/or cannabis-taking paraphernalia such as bongs, which are used to provide a concentrated cannabis-smoking experience without having to mess about with cigarette papers or tobacco. I remarked that anecdotal evidence showed that as little as one gram of skunk was enough to maintain a psychopathological state such as depression or paranoia, something which is increasingly recognised.
After Richard left, as we hadn't found my friends, I noticed a hunt saboteurs' tent. I had to supress a smile - this is a cause close to Minora's heart, she who has never seen a fox in her life. I, on the other hand, have seen plenty: the city of Glasgow has the highest concentration of foxes in Great Britain. If I thought for one moment they gave a fig about the damn fox I would have went over; so I walked on.
It gave me heart, however, to see a stall run by NO2ID. I said to the lady minding it, I used to be vaguely in favour of ID cards in the context of national security - then all this information started to go missing. There was a time when, for example, Soviet spies would have to work hard to get hold of such a wealth of statistics. Now, the Government can't even be bothered to expend the energy involved in giving it away - it just loses the stuff. I liked the flier (bottom) - a mock ID card with a picture of George Orwell, in the name of Winston Smith, the hero of Orwell's dystopic political thriller 1984.
Strawberry Fair's organisers had mounted a campaign to clean up the fair's image. In the end, unfortunately, the antisocial element won out, and now local residents are asking for a "gap year", largely due to drug-related antisocial behaviour.
I had a pint before going home, and heard some folk complaining that pubs which admitted under-18's could no longer host cigarette-machines. It appears that Westminister may be following Scotland's plan to "denormalise" - a word it has borrowed, ironically, from database management - smoking.
Perhaps its priority should be to "denormalise" consumption of illegal drugs in city-centre festivals, starting with forcing the sale of paraphernalia back into head-shops which could then be monitored.
But what can you say about governmental efforts to change our behaviour by altering our language...double-plus ungood?
The EU mellows its negotiating position a bit
2 hours ago