By Ray Wilson
Stretching Eyes West
“Stretching eyes west
Over the sea
Wind foul or fair
Always stood she
Solely out there
Did her gaze rest
Seemed charm to be “
-The Riddle by Thomas Hardy
And so at last we arrive in Lyme Bay on a blustery morning having parked the motorcycle combination up on the hill and walked down to the Cobb, the Cobb that has cost much in repairs through the centuries, the Cobb that saw the ships sail to meet the Armada from it. Our hound tugs on her lead, energised by the breeze. I notice the newspapers flapping on the stand. The Bridport News Thursday, September 21, 2023, leads with the headline “Harbour Work Costs Increase,” explaining that the Cobb repair project costs have risen by an extra 1.5 million pounds due to inflation. History is forever repeating itself. John Fowles describes the motionless figure standing on the Cobb, staring out to sea, in his novel The French Lieutenant’s Woman. Now politicians and media types are apparently unable to define what a woman is, certainly under the intense gaze of public scrutiny, although I suspect they are somewhat more candid in private with no such mealy-mouthed qualms. Fear of being disenfranchised and deplatformed, fear of losing income, and fear of being ostracised—are these the sorts of characters we want to represent us? The sedate town of Lyme described by Jane Austin in “Persuasion” has a genteel nature in stark contrast with the passion and guilt that emanate from John Fowles’s third novel.
The MPs for Lyme in the 1760s had no human interest in the town and ran it with utter contempt for ancient freedoms and privileges. John Scrope and Henry Holt Henley, MPs for Lyme, corrupted the Lyme Custom Service, which was a Mafia-style protection racket, and its effects are summed up in an 18th-century verse. The verse highlights the detrimental impact of the MPs’ corruption on the town: “Lyme, once so famed for freedom’s sacred cause, now groans beneath oppression’s iron laws. Its ancient rights and privileges were defaced, and all its former glories are now effaced.” The corrupt actions of the MPs not only undermined the town’s freedoms but also perpetuated a culture of fear and exploitation. Any innkeeper who allowed free speech in his hostelry, or more correctly, anyone in his rooms who was questioning the narrative, could not expect any mercy when his licence came up for renewal.
“Satan resolved to take a rout
And search the country round about
To find where he could fix his seat
Where fraud, hypocrisy, and deceit
And Avarice did mostly dwell.
To furnish candidates for Hell
One of his agents is by his side.
With a malicious grin, he replied.
“Give 0’er your search; ’tis wasting time.
You’ll find all you can wish for in Lyme.”
We wend our way along the narrow paths; they were still busy with tourists, although many of the shops weren’t open until midday.
“I have always wanted to write a book, but to publish limited copies each with a different ending,” the lady in the bookshop says, handing me the book.
We had been talking about John Fowles, Orwell, and the current revisions and rewriting of history going on today.
“Sounds like a great idea, particularly as a real physical book—each copy is identical in every detail except each batch has a different ending,” I say.
My missus disappears off into a clothing shop at the end of the cobbled lane while I walk with the hound across the road to the dog-friendly beach. The sun is shining, and it’s windy enough for the kite surfers to be ripping around the bay, achieving the ability to become airborne before crashing down on the edges of frothing towers of waves. As I watch the kite surfers in awe, I can’t help but imagine the thrill of soaring through the air and feeling the rush of adrenaline. The beach is bustling with activity, creating a vibrant atmosphere that adds to the charm of this coastal town.
My missus is deep in conversation with the shop owner. It’s getting animated because it concerns the sexualization of children.
“They are filtering it into every subject, so it’s impossible for parents to ensure their children aren’t indoctrinated with this evil, ” my missus is saying.
My hound sits patiently, hoping for a treat.
“I really worry for our young ones, ” the shop owner says, arranging garments on the metal rail. “Mine are in their thirties now, grandkids all with their phones, toddlers, I ask you,” she says.
“But what can we do?”
“Steve Jobs,” inventor of I-phones and the rest,” my missus sighs, “wouldn’t let his kids have one—what does that tell you?”
In a 2011 interview with The New York Times shortly before he passed away, Jobs said he banned his kids from using the newly released iPad. “We don’t allow the iPad in the home. We think it’s too dangerous for them in effect,” he said.
“It’s true,” I respond, nodding in agreement. “Perhaps limiting screen time and encouraging other activities could help mitigate the influence of technology on our children.”
“The trouble is parents have no time,” my missus says. “Hand a toddler the i-phone; they are instantly engaged by some video or other and totally appeased.”
“Hassle-free parenting?” Probably not for long,” the missus concludes.
Its ironic that the Online Safety Act will allow recognised news publishers immunity from committing an offence under Section 80; obviously, these are brought-and-paid-for-totally controlled media outlets, so there is little chance of them questioning the narrative.
Individuals who question the narrative will, of course, be punished for speaking out. The government and their servants can distribute pornography to four-year-old children, but parents questioning this could face fines and imprisonment. So how exactly is the Online Safety Act helping to protect our children? Was it not put in place to stop them from assessing pornography?
It has been demonstrated in a Court of Law that ”RSE’—Relationships and Sexuality Education—is in fact a ‘Global Rollout’ of ‘CSE,’ Comprehensive Sexuality Education—or, as someone pointed out, perhaps the acronym more accurately stands for “Child Sexual Exploitation”—and there are simply no tools to assist teachers in determining such a delicate psychological issue as ‘Developmentally Appropriate,’ and that government education ministers all over the world have been less than forthcoming on these matters. Perhaps we should all be asking why? Why would the powers that be wish to sexualize our children and at the same time threaten those who speak out against the agenda with fines and imprisonment?
The evidence shows that there is a global concern regarding the sexualization of children in education. This raises questions about the intentions and motives behind such agendas, prompting a need for a deeper understanding of why governments are not addressing these concerns openly and transparently.
Lord Jonathan Sumption, a former member of the UK Supreme Court who served from 2012 to 2018, believes that provisions targeting ‘legal but harmful’ speech are dangerously vague and will chill free speech.
He stated in an article for The Spectator Magazine:
“The real vice of the bill is that its provisions are not limited to material capable of being defined and identified. It creates a new category of speech which is legal but ‘harmful’. The range of material covered is almost infinite, the only limitation being that it must be liable to cause ‘harm’ to some people.
Unfortunately, that is not much of a limitation. Harm is defined in the bill in circular language of stratospheric vagueness … Many things which are harmless to the overwhelming majority of users may be harmful to sufficiently sensitive, fearful or vulnerable minorities, or may be presented as such”.
This broad definition of harm in the bill raises concerns about potential abuse and censorship. It allows for subjective interpretation and leaves room for suppressing speech that may simply challenge or offend certain individuals or groups, stifling freedom of expression in the process. It’s important to recognise that this is not by mistake; this is a carefully judged plan designed and calculated to the nth degree. People will talk, and in the end, the truth will come out.
Our time has passed quickly, sunny days have melted away, and our holiday is nearing its end as we reflect on the memories we’ve made as we climb up through Langmoor Gardens, my missus stopping to admire the plants making for our spot overlooking the Cobb. As we approached the seat, we saw a young woman dressed in a hoodie clasping a book and staring out to sea.
“Don’t do that, Pup,” I admonished our hound as she lunged forward to greet the stranger.
The woman made a big fuss about our dog, bending down to pet her and commenting on how friendly she was.
“Sit,” said the woman laughing, “all sit, please. There’s plenty of room.”
We started to chat, telling of our motorcycling exploits with the dog and that we were staying off-grid near Marshwood Vale.
She then told us of her incredible journey—how five years ago she was the CEO of a big logistics company in Germany and owned a swanky apartment outside Berlin, an expensive car, and all the accoutrements of the modern world. After she broke up with a boyfriend, there was sadness and animosity between them. She quit her job and hitchhiked across Europe with her dog, all the way to England.
“I lived cheap; I loved it; my father, who was very worried for me, begged for me to return home. He said it was too dangerous for a girl. I told him I have my very big dog, but he is not convinced.”
She told us that she wrote in her journal every day; after a year, she relented and went home for Christmas. She sold her big apartment, car, and all the stuff and bought a micro camper van.
She got her father to store her personal items at his house and has been travelling Europe with her dog ever since.
“I love the UK, but it’s so difficult; in Europe, it’s easy to find spots to park.” She throws up her hands and laughs. “I learned stealth camping during COVID. I worked at a strawberry farm in the West Country; every morning, picking strawberries, the farmer pays me and lets me park my camper for free,” she continues.
“What dog do you have?” my missus asks.
“He’s a shepherd; he looks after the camper; no one bothers me; I walk him very early and very late, sometimes lunchtimes when I am not working—today I am catching up with my journal.” She waved her book.
“We mustn’t interrupt you,” I begin.
“No, I enjoy talking to interesting people; I learn so much, but I am working managing the holiday homes up on the hill for another month, perhaps?”
“It’s a nice place—free parking and all facilities—good, eh?”
“We must go, I say; we are heading home tomorrow—you have inspired us, young lady,” I say as I shake her hand. “Maybe one day soon we will be brave enough to do what you are doing.”
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