Monthly Archives: October 2009

Another stop in Metro-land: Great Missenden

The Mule is gradually visiting the varied places that comprise Metro-land, as the area along the Metropolitan Railway (now Metropolitan Line on the tube) was marketed in the 1920s.

Our latest trip is to Great Missenden. A large village located in the Chilterns, it is best known for being home to Roald Dahl and there’s now a museum to the man and the characters of his books, making it a popular family destination. The village is full of picturesque, historic buildings, which also makes it worth a wander around with a camera, which is precisely what we did. Take a look at our photos of Great Missenden on Flickr. There’s also a good selection of cafes, pubs and interesting shops.

Great Missenden

Here are photos of other stops in Metro-land we’ve visited, on our Flickr channel:

Aylesbury
Wendover
Chorleywood
Rickmansworth

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The Roman Credit Crunch AD 33

Translation by the Internet Classics Archive:

Meanwhile, a powerful host of accusers fell with sudden fury on the class which systematically increased its wealth by usury in defiance of a law passed by Caesar the Dictator defining the terms of lending money and of holding estates in Italy, a law long obsolete because the public good is sacrificed to private interest. The curse of usury was indeed of old standing in Rome and a most frequent cause of sedition and discord, and it was therefore repressed even in the early days of a less corrupt morality. First, the Twelve Tables prohibited any one from exacting more than 10 per cent, when, previously, the rate had depended on the caprice of the wealthy. Subsequently, by a bill brought in by the tribunes, interest was reduced to half that amount, and finally compound interest was wholly forbidden. A check too was put by several enactments of the people on evasions which, though continually put down, still, through strange artifices, reappeared. On this occasion, however, Gracchus, the praetor, to whose jurisdiction the inquiry had fallen, felt himself compelled by the number of persons endangered to refer the matter to the Senate. In their dismay the senators, not one of whom was free from similar guilt, threw themselves on the emperor’s indulgence. He yielded, and a year and six months were granted, within which every one was to settle his private accounts conformably to the requirements of the law.

Hence followed a scarcity of money, a great shock being given to all credit, the current coin too, in consequence of the conviction of so many persons and the sale of their property, being locked up in the imperial treasury or the public exchequer. To meet this, the Senate had directed that every creditor should have two-thirds his capital secured on estates in Italy. Creditors however were suing for payment in full, and it was not respectable for persons when sued to break faith. So, at first, there were clamorous meetings and importunate entreaties; then noisy applications to the praetor’s court. And the very device intended as a remedy, the sale and purchase of estates, proved the contrary, as the usurers had hoarded up all their money for buying land. The facilities for selling were followed by a fall of prices, and the deeper a man was in debt, the more reluctantly did he part with his property, and many were utterly ruined. The destruction of private wealth precipitated the fall of rank and reputation, till at last the emperor interposed his aid by distributing throughout the banks a hundred million sesterces, and allowing freedom to borrow without interest for three years, provided the borrower gave security to the State in land to double the amount. Credit was thus restored, and gradually private lenders were found. The purchase too of estates was not carried out according to the letter of the Senate’s decree, rigour at the outset, as usual with such matters, becoming negligence in the end.

Tacitus, Annals VI

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Wedding#3: Starting the dress hunt

The dress. Yet another thing governed by hideous tradition… almost all of which I’m tempted to reject and go dressed in something Roman and flame-coloured. Possibly with matching Converses. It was so much more sensible in the days when one just wore a really expensive dress and could then wear it again to other things. In fairness, I could do that now, but I have a nagging feeling that later on I might feel that I’d cheated myself out of something unique. There’s always ivory as an alternative to white.

Now, I can’t go mad on dress hunting this week, as my mother’s in Rome and will kill me if I start without her. Having said that, there’s no harm browsing on the internet and thinking “I am NOT wearing THAT!” and “How the hell am I supposed to cost this if they don’t give price estimates?”.

This particular designer is stocked locally and even has price estimates. But they all look the same, no? Or they do to me, anyway. The fashion seems to be paper cornet, strapless with(out) embroidery.

Sigh.

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Stephen Fry on an Inconvenient Mule

Some months ago I recall Stephen Fry sharing his shock that he’d be travelling on mules for the ‘Last Chance to See’. His reaction was along the lines of ‘a thousand boiling arses.’

Today, finally, we got to witness this great event. Using the TVcatchup website on iPhone I was also able to easily screengrab the event, although the quality is typically that of a web stream.

Stephen Fry on an inconvenient mule
Stephen Fry on an inconvenient mule
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A return to picture of the day

Although winter is by no means the best time of year for photography, the autumn season we’re currently experiencing that precedes it offers, in comparison, a wealth of colour, light and opportunities.

The first photo for the newly reprised Photo of the Day is not, however, an autumnal scene, although I hope many will follow. Today, the first day parliament is sitting following the summer recess, saw Greenpeace protestors on the roof of the Palace of Westminster. Alas, my iPhone’s paltry camera didn’t masterly touch this piece of current affairs, however hopefully something of the scene was captured:

Greenpeace protestors on the Palace of Westminster roof
Greenpeace protestors on the Palace of Westminster roof

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Bookedy-booked

We were in a rush yesterday. The hamster’s been a bit ill this week, so we took her into the vet’s to make sure she was fighting fit again. Vet waiting rooms – with ill rabbits and whining dogs – aren’t the jolliest of places, and they were running 40 minutes late. Also, some selfish person had already done the crossword in the BBC History magazine and got one of the answers spectacularly wrong (there was never a king of Spain called ‘Fransciscii’ (sic), as far as I can recall).

By the time we left (complete with clean bill of hamster health and less £16), and tracked down my parents (or chauffeurs, if you will), we were running ten minutes behind. Having got to the venue and deposited my dad in the bar, we then sat waiting for the wedding co-ordinator for another five minutes.

The long and the short of it is that we’ve now booked the wedding properly, including buffet (easier for picky eaters), string quartet and bridal suite. This despite the distraction of student-aged people outside on the lawn practising historical drama in strange, inflatable hats.  Pleased that everything should be relatively stress free. The only thing we’ll have that’s not provided by the hotel on the day will be the evening band. I assume the registrar is reliable.

We’re on the hunt for a contemporary ceilidh band. Can anyone recommend one?

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