Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Hapus

My family was Welsh. Sort of. The really Welsh part, my father, had been born in Australia when his genuinely Welsh parents decided to emigrate. The relatives who lived in Wales (my mother’s family) were very careful to tell everyone they were actually from Bristol, and had moved to south Wales because my grandfather got work there. So when my mother talked about ‘Going home to Wales’ she meant her family, but she didn’t mean Wales, as in terms of culture or language.

I was born near London, but my parents chose to give me a Welsh name, Carys. It comes from the Welsh word ‘cariad’, which means sweetheart or darling. In 1960s Hertfordshire nobody had ever heard of the name and mostly got it wrong. It was my heart’s desire to have a mug or an eggcup with my name on it, but in all the shops there was only ‘Linda’ or ‘Caroline’ or ‘Susan’ etc. It’s different now, there are plenty of Caryses around, but still when I hear the name I think it must be me.

Anyway, there I was living in this supposedly Welsh family, in England, and my dream was to go and live in Wales, so when I decided to become a teacher, that is where I went to study. Oh dear. Surrounded by real Welsh people, including Welsh speakers, I realised really fast that I wasn’t Welsh at all.

Nevertheless, as well as all this faux-Welshness, and my Welsh name, I actually managed to be born on Wales’ National Day, St David’s Day, which is March 1.

Wales has a tradition of Eisteddfod, which is a festival of song and poetry, and because my Welsh (?) father was the headmaster of the school I attended (yes, it was strange) we never did school work on March 1, but had a school eisteddfod. It was a marvellous birthday for me: I loved singing, loved writing and reciting poetry and loved the chance to show off. I once won a prize for singing this song:

I sang in English, by the way. I can’t speak or understand Welsh, neither could either of my parents.

Here is some background to St David and his day:

There is even a city in the west of Wales named after him:

I was always proud of being Welsh, although I wasn’t really. My Welshness was supporting the Welsh rugby team:

and making Welsh cakes sometimes:

(I am not sure they are really delicious. Wales was always a poor country, no abundance of delicious ingredients: plenty of coal in the valleys, which was mined for and brought wealth to the English and not much else except beautiful mountains, castles and beaches.)

And that was about it, really. Anyway, St David said “Do the little things” and it seems to me this is the perfect saying for these times of Corona, and reminds me of William Blake’s poem:

William Blake quote: To see a world in a grain of sand
And a heaven in a...
William Blake quote: To see a world in a grain of sand And a… (azquotes.com)

The flowers are certainly out around our house this week, and the air has been full of insects and bees. A reminder that even in times of Corona, small joys can still be found.

PS: Happy Birthday me!

Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake…

We’ve been talking about pancakes here at home this week. Pancakes did not play a large part in my British life, except on Pancake day. Pancake Day is the day before Ash Wednesday, and legend tells us it was traditionally a way of using up all those delicious eggs and creamy milk, before the start of Lent.

Over the years I have made pancakes with hundreds of my participants, and even held pancake races. Sometimes pancakes were tossed so enthusiastically they got stuck on various kitchen ceilings.

The pancakes we tossed are what Germans understand as crepes, and are usually rolled up and then eaten with a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkling of sugar. Hmmn.

Imagine my delight on landing in the USA and meeting my first American pancake.

Not forgetting the maple syrup:

Then I came back to Germany and lo and behold, German pancakes are different again: and in Berlin, the word ‘Pfannkuchen’ is actually what we would call in English a doughnut and what the rest of Germany call a Berliner.

Not confusing at all.

Anyway, ‘Pat-a-cake’ comes from an English nursery rhyme. Here’s one version…

Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake, baker's man 1 - WW Denslow - Project Gutenberg etext 18546.jpg
Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake, baker’s man 1 – WW Denslow – Project Gutenberg etext 18546 – Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake, baker’s man – Wikipedia
…and another

Which is first mentioned in writing in the year 1698. Later, it was a poem in a collection called ‘Mother Goose’ Nursery Rhymes’, which was published in 1780. There are dozens of English nursery rhymes, all very old, and many with a political or historical background; Humpty Dumpty, Hickory Dickory Dock, Sing a song of Sixpence, Twinkle twinkle little star… I could drone on for hours.

The ‘Mother Goose’ character, by the way, comes from the French. Perrault’s fairy tale collection, Contes de ma Mère l’Oye, was first translated into English as Tales of My Mother Goose.

Talking of geese, on one of our daily walks this week we saw hundreds of Canada geese on the meadows next to the river Weser. They must already be on their way back home up north, ready for the spring and summer.

How nice!

Header:PAT-A-CAKE | Vintage book art, Vintage paper dolls, Victorian nursery (pinterest.co.uk)

Anyone who had a heart…

I always loved watching TV and my weekly highlight was ‘Juke Box Jury’, which was on BBC 1 on Saturday evenings. Newly-released singles were played and a jury made up of celebrities awarded points, forecasting which song would be a hit. At that time, the BBC did not archive their programmes, but two episodes of Juke Box Jury still exist, so you can get a flavour of my favourite programme.

Oh dear. It was great at the time.

Had my parents known the origin of the word ‘Jukebox’ I am rather sure I wouldn’t have been watching:

jukebox (n.)

also juke-box, “machine that automatically plays selected recorded music when a coin is inserted,” 1939, earlier jook organ (1937), from jook joint “roadhouse, brothel” (1935), African-American vernacular, from juke, joog “wicked, disorderly,” a word in Gullah (the creolized English of the coastlands of South Carolina, Georgia, and northern Florida). This is probably from an African source, such as Wolof and Bambara dzug “unsavory.” The adjective is said to have originated in central Florida (see “A Note on Juke,” Florida Review, vol. vii, no. 3, spring 1938). The spelling with a -u- might represent a deliberate attempt to put distance between the word and its origins. (jukebox | Origin and meaning of jukebox by Online Etymology Dictionary (etymonline.com)

Jusr before my eighth birthday, Cilla Black’s recording of ‘Anyone who had a heart’ was released. I loved it. I sang it all day, every day, loudly (my mother reckoned I ruined my voice); I had a Cilla Black haircut and put toothpaste on my lips copying Cilla’s pale lipstick.

Those were the days.

Anyway, 14 February being Valentine’s Day, I have been thinking about hearts. Here’s a very interesting TED Talk about how and why the heart became a symbol of love, including why we wear our wedding rings on our left ‘ring finger’:

How did the human heart become associated with love? And how did it turn into the shape we know today? |

Most Germans I have met think that Valentine’s day is something modern and commercial. It really isn’t.

Back in the 1960s sweets called ‘Love Hearts’ were very popular: brightly coloured sugar hearts with messages on them: “Be mine!” “My girl”, “Kiss me!”. A few years ago, the company held a competition for new slogans. Here are the winners:

As Jimmy Ruffin sang, hearts can also be broken.

I think my heart has been in a brokenish sort of state for a few years; not I hasten to add to do with my lovely husband, but to do with the state of Brexit Britain and Trump’s America.

The last nights I have been sitting watching the impeachment trial in the Senate and have felt so encouraged. Seeing the intelligence, the integrity, the passion of the Democratic house managers has been inspiring and heartening. Lead manager Jamie Raskin summed up, quoting English-born Tom Paine:

“Paine wrote this pamphlet called ‘The Crisis’ and in it, he said these beautiful words, and with your permission, I’m going to update the language a little bit, pursuant to the suggestion of Speaker Pelosi, so as not to offend modern sensibilities,” Mr. Raskin said. “He said,

These are the times that try men and women’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will shrink at this moment from the service of their cause and their country; but everyone who stands with us now, will win the love and the favor and affection of every man and every woman for all time. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; but we have this saving consolation: the more difficult the struggle, the more glorious in the end will be our victory.”

Leaving on a jet plane (not)

In 1982 I was living in the USA and as this was pre-internet I got my news from the wonderful National Public Radio (NPR) and the rather less wonderful US news channels and broadcasts. I did subscribe, at huge cost, to The Sunday Times, which arrived in my mailbox on Melaleuca Drive on a Thursday; I read every letter of it, spreading it out on the floor of our open-plan living room, an unwise and provocative move bearing in mind my daughter was constantly riding her green tricycle at great speed and skill in the same house.

Anyway, people began to ask me what I thought about the ‘Falklands War’ and to be honest, I had no opinion as I didn’t understand how the whole thing had been allowed to get that far.

The benefit of hindsight doesn’t make the whole thing anymore reasonable, and the loss of life remains simply appalling.

The names Falklands and Malvinas cropped up again last week, when Lufthansa gave details of its longest non-stop flight ever: 13,700 km from Hamburg to the Mount Pleasant Complex on the Falkland Islands.

On board were 16 crew and 92 passengers, the latter bound for the Research Vessel Polar Stern of the Alfred Wegener Institute, which is based in Bremerhaven, just up the road from us.

If that’s not fantastic I don’t know what is.

I miss flying more than I could ever have imagined.

In early 1982 we flew with Air Florida to Washington DC (and back) and shortly after that, Air Florida Flight 90 crashed into the Potomac river, killing most of the people on board. Instantly, I became petrified of flying, which was unfortunate bearing in mind that over the next years I had to travel by air. As I always do, I constructed all sorts of complicated tales about why I couldn’t possibly fly to visit (for instance) my friends in California, and when I really did have to fly I took all sorts of strange precautions like packing damp towels in my hand luggage to put over my children’s heads, ready to crawl along the floor with them both trying to find the exit. I always had a over-vivid imagination.

Many years later I started teaching engineers. I saw with what skill and care these people worked on their machines and projects, and I learned more about how and why planes can fly. I realised my fear was connected to my fears about myself, and the way my life was. I began to enjoy the thrill of the take-off, understood what turbulence is, and grew over the years to love the feeling of an airport, loved knowing Schiphol and Changi like the back of my hand…I loved the KLM sandwiches and the peanuts and the gin and tonic as I sat back in my seat on board Singapore Airlines, loved arriving in the Singapore heat in the early morning, rushing to the wonderful Changi ladies’ bathrooms to take off my cosy German underwear…just one more flight and I will be with my grandchildren again.

SPLASH! That was a tear falling on my keyboard, because it’s all gone.

‘Never mind’, the voice in my mind says, remembering a book I used to read to my own children, and grandchildren, ‘Could be worse!’

Indeed it could. Stay well everybody!

A surfeit of kiwis

Let’s be honest, life’s a bit monotonous these days and so I got really excited last week when I read that 2021 is the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables. Yes!

My childhood did not feature either very much. Vegetables may have been carrots, or, in late summer, runner beans (which could be stringy) going into the Brussels sprout season (yuk! yuk!). Turns out the little blighters were cultivated in Belgium in the 15th century, hence the ‘Brussels’ part of the name. In German they are Rosenkohl, literally rose cabbage which I think is an excellent description. Bitter rose cabbage would be even better.

Fruit was tinned, eaten on Sundays at teatime; maybe Australian cling peaches, or mandarin oranges, both served with evaporated milk (yuk! yuk!) and, inexplicably, slices of bread and butter. Once, I remember there were tinned pears, which were hideously sickening in their grainy-ness. I always had problems with the consistency of food.

What is a cling peach I hear you asking?

“Peaches can be classified by three different pit types: cling, semi-cling, and freestone. Cling peaches are the type where the fruit is woven into the pit. Freestone are those varieties where the pit is separated from the flesh. Semi-cling are an in-between fruit where the flesh is attached but not wholly embedded into the pit.” Cling Peaches – The FruitGuys

How interesting!

Anyway, finding out about this special year coincided with our local supermarket having kiwis on special offer, 15 cents per kiwi. I can’t remember when I had my first kiwi, but it was certainly not a common fruit in Europe until comparatively recently. They used to be called ‘Chinese Gooseberries’ and it wasn’t until New Zealand decided to go for the crop in a big way that the name was changed, gooseberries not being the world’s most popular fruit.

I remember they used to cost one German Mark per fruit. They were an expensive and exotic luxury. In the meantime, most of the kiwis we get in Europe are grown in Italy, and they are cheap.

I never quite know what to do with them. They feature in hotel buffet breakfasts (remember those!) and I sometime slice one and mix with grapes for the top of a Pavlova, but it is not my fruit of choice for snacking.

However, 15 cents per fruit was too much of a bargain to resist, and so ten unripe kiwis have been sitting in the dining room all week. We looked for a recipe for a cake, and found one which needed a Waldmeister flavour jelly.

Now, Waldmeister (Sweet Woodruff) is a very German thing. A Waldmeister jelly is bright green and tastes of perfume. The plant itself (which grows in abundance in our garden) is really quite nice, and is used for a popular punch:

Hmmn, I think I will try making some of that this year. I see one can also make syrup.

Anyway, my lovely husband make the cake yesterday (see header) and I can confirm it’s delicious.

My participants always had such fun learning the vocabulary for fruits and vegetables, especially loving words like asparagus and cauliflower. So I hope you all enjoy this Sesame Street video: Name that fruit!

Tonight will be fine

I don’t remember how, but a while back I came across a woman called Samantha Power on twitter. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t known about her before and have followed and read her avidly ever since. I was more than thrilled to hear that Joe Biden has given her a position in his government, as Administrator of USAID:

I first met a real, live American in 1977. She became, and still is, one of my very dearest friends, a role-model, a person I turn to for honest advice. She always makes me laugh.

Since then, living in the USA and making many more wonderful friends, and on my travels there, I have yet to meet a US citizen who isn’t open, generous, interested, friendly, warm-hearted. And that is part of the reason why I found the last four years so dreadfully difficult, trying to reconcile the America I loved with the ugly, Trumpian face it seemed to have become.

USAID has its roots in the Marshall Plan, named after George C. Marshall, the US Secretary of State from 1947 to 1949. This plan provided significant financial and technical assistance to Europe after the war, assisting western European countries in rebuilding infrastructure, strengthening their economies, and (hopefully) thus stabilising the region.

Over the years of teaching English to German adults, I have heard from so many people who remember the post-War CARE packages from the USA with great gratitude, just like Renate Senter here:

And some of my participants were children in Berlin during the blockade of 1948 – 1949, and were among those eating food dropped for them by the ‘Rosinen-Bomber’ (Raisin-bombers):

In 1961 President Kennedy signed the Foreign Assistance Act into law and created USAID by executive order.

I think I’ve written before about one of my favourite BBC radio programmes, ‘Desert Island Discs’: “Eight tracks, a book and a luxury: what would you take to a desert island? Guests share the soundtrack of their lives.”

BBC Radio 4 – Desert Island Discs

Well, can you imagine how excited I was to hear that Samantha Power was to be this week’s guest?

I just listened to the programme, and it is as wonderful as I had anticipated. She talks about her early life in Ireland, her father’s alcoholism, her parents’ divorce, emigrating to the USA at the age of nine with her mother and brother, and her father’s lonely, early death. Since all that, she has of course had a marvellous, meaningful career and also married and had two children she obviously adores. She describes her feelings, very typical for the child of an alcoholic, and totally understandable in the circumstances of her father’s death, about the fragility of happiness.

After Samantha had talked about this, she chose to play the song, ” Tonight will be fine”, by Leonard Cohen sung by Teddy Thompson.

And to be honest, this week has seemed a bit brighter. Go, Amanda! Go Samantha! And very thankfully again, go USA!

Header: 210120-D-WD757-2466 (50861321057) – The Hill We Climb – Wikipedia

For there is always light,
If only we’re brave enough to see it
If only we’re brave enough to be it

Amanda Gorman


An Unkindness of Ravens

Over the million years of teaching English to adult Germans, what most surprised me was how interested they were in learning things which were absolutely pointless. One of my biggest successes was teaching them the vocabulary ‘Haberdashery shop’. They loved it, and even worse, remembered it! I don’t suppose any of them had ever been in such a shop, if they even still exist, and I seriously doubt they would ever need any haberdashery products.

It was the same with idioms (Raining cats and dogs was very popular, only topped by in a nutshell) and, weirdest of all, names for groups of animals. No, I don’t know either.

I thought of that this week when I heard the shocking news that one of the ravens from the Tower of London has gone missing. This is indeed worrying, as legend has it that when the ravens leave the Tower of London, the kingdom will fall! Ever since the reign of King Charles II (my favourite King, by the way), six ravens have been resident in the Tower, with a seventh as a spare just in case.

The ravens | Tower of London | Historic Royal Palaces (hrp.org.uk)

The word for a group of ravens is an ‘Unkindness’. They do look a bit mean, don’t they? It’s thought this comes from the idea that they, the ravens, were not good parents and threw their fledglings out of their nests too soon.

My favourite word for a group of birds is ‘Skein’, as in a skein of geese: this apparently comes from Old French escaigne, meaning a piece of yarn resembling the ‘v’ shape of geese flying high in the sky.

When geese are on the ground they would be called a ‘gaggle’, from the sounds they make when alarmed.

This week, another bird was in the news. This one was all by itself and surprisingly and unexpectedly ended up in Australia:

A few years ago, a racing pigeon turned up in our garden. It was obviously worn out and not well, so we called the local pigeon fancier club and an official came around. He was unable to catch the pigeon, it was always just a few steps in front of all of us, but left us some special strengthening pigeon food and told us it would fly home again when well enough.

The pigeon (we called it ‘Bernice’) stayed with us for a few days and was then gone. We missed her.

Why we called our pigeon Bernice

This week we will again be taking part in Germany’s ‘Wild bird hour’,

Stunde der Wintervögel 2021 – Bundesweite Mitmachaktion – NABU

counting the number and types of wild birds we see in our garden, and trying not to cheat this year.

Some years ago a competition was organised in the UK to choose Britain’s National Bird. In 3rd place was the blackbird, 2nd the Barn Owl, and at No 1 was…

No surprises there!

Header photo: © User:Colin / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

A Moth of One’s Own

Recently I heard my lovely husband laughing as he read his copy of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Now, that German newspaper is not known for laughs and so I wondered what had tickled his fancy. He showed me the short report, accompanied by a photo, “Moth named after Donald Trump.”

You can see the unfortunate moth above (Close up of the Head of a Male Neopalpa donaldtrumpi [image] | EurekAlert! Science News).

The BBC reported: “The Neopalpa donaldtrumpi was discovered in California by researcher Vazrick Nazari, of Ottawa, Canada.The name was inspired by the striking golden flakes covering its head, which he likened to Donald Trump’s famous mop.”

How interesting! And it turns out that Barack Obama had no less than nine species named after him:

These nine different creatures have been named after Barack Obama | Science | AAAS (sciencemag.org)

These include various fish, a lizard, a variety of lichen and a spider.

Recently a group of my brilliant students gave me a wonderful present: I am now the proud sponsor of a Humboldt Penguin in the zoo at Bremerhaven. Here I am with my certificate. (Don’t worry, it’s not a real penguin under the glass. It’s made of paper.)

I can’t wait to visit personally!

After learning about that poor old moth, I wondered why these penguins were called Humboldt penguins. I found out that Humboldt penguins come from South America. They get their name from the cold sea current that runs along the west coast of South America from Chile to Peru, which was named after the explorer Alexander von Humboldt.

It turns out that between 17,000 to 24,000 animal species are identified every year and the scientists who identify the new species choose the name – which can reference where it was found, what it looks like or just a person the scientist likes or admires.

As I write, events in the USA seem to have gone beyond the moth stage. History tells us that appeasement never works, that expecting a person to change just because they get a different job is naive, and that it doesn’t take much for a democracy to wobble.

It’s a shame that the events of last week overshadowed two marvellous results: Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff being elected as Senators for Georgia.

The audacity of hope.

White wine with the fish

I loved French at school. My first French teacher was Mrs Gaskell, a Frenchwoman married to a Brit. We sat in two rows in a dark room and looked at pictures on a filmstrip which Mrs Gaskell rolled to and fro and then watched and listened as she spoke the text. I particularly remember the sentence:

Monsieur Thibeau va chercher du bon vin à la cave.

We never had wine in our house, and I had never seen a cellar, but oh how I loved the idea!

Later, my teacher was a very strict Yorkshireman, Mr Powell. Our textbook was ‘A la page’ and was full of funny stories about a little boy called Zazou, illustrated by sparky line drawings. I fell in love with Georges Moustaki, flicked through Paris Match (our school had a subscription) and could not wait to actually get to France. When I did, I loved every single molecule of the place and arrived grumpily back home in England impatient to leave again as soon as possible.

Because I loved French, I was very good at it, so good that I was offered the chance to learn German. Oh dear. There was no German equivalent of Mrs Gaskell, no sparky Zazou. Our boring textbook’s cover was in the colours of the German flag, and that black stripe mirrored my experiences with the language. I hated and saw no point in adjectival endings. I mostly couldn’t wait until the end of the sentence to find out if a war has been won or lost (German putting the most important verb way at the end of the sentence). And to be honest, neither my teachers nor my text books (‘Aus dem Leben eines Taugenichts’, printed in old German font), were very inspiring.

Anyway, all this meant by the time I actually shook the dust of England off my feet and arrived in Germany, I could speak some German, albeit badly, and understood most of what people said to me.

What I didn’t understand was why people would suddenly say to me, in English, ‘White wine with the fish?’ although we were not eating or drinking, or ‘Cheerio Miss Sophie!’ although they knew Sophie wasn’t my name. All was revealed several years of puzzlement later, when a German friend started talking about ‘Dinner for One’, a short film which every German must watch at least once on New Year’s Eve and which they find screamingly funny. It’s in English and stars English actors (Freddie Frinton and May Warden) and so they are all of the opinion this must be a British production.

The Guinness Book of Records claims that Dinner for One is the most repeated TV programme ever: the production was filmed in front of a live audience in 1963 in Hamburg and is shown every year not only in Germany but pretty much all over the world. We have seen it in a hotel in Bangkok and also on a Lufthansa flight to New Zealand. Now you can watch it not only in English, but also Plattdeutsch (Low German), and Latin. The only place you won’t be seeing it is in the UK, where it has never been shown.


What makes something funny has to do with experience and history and memories. I don’t think I know anybody now who will know why ‘Egg and chips and a mug of cocoa and straight up to bed’ makes me laugh. It’s a line from ‘Hancock’s Half Hour’, a radio series which starred the greats: Tony Hancock, Sid James, Kenneth Williams, Hattie Jacques and Bill Kerr (Rumour has it he was raised by a herd of rogue kangaroo). Those series, later developed for TV, were part of my childhood and later I listened over and over again to tapes and CDs in my car as I drove hundreds of kilometres every week.

Hancock is funny because he’s tragic, and Tony Hancock, bedevilled by self-doubt and riddled by alcohol, ended up committing suicide in a hotel room in Australia in June 1968.

I was 12 at the time and I think his death was the first time I realized that a person I thought was successful, and must be happy, wasn’t.

It feels inappropriate to wish you a Happy New Year: 2020 has made all of us more wary.

My Mum planned her funeral most exactly, to be uplifiting, and this is the music, by English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams she chose:

Let’s see what 2021 holds in store for us!

THOMAS

In the afternoon of December 29 1170, four knights stormed into the sanctuary of Canterbury Cathedral and murdered the Archbishop, Thomas.

Thomas was born in London on the feast of St Thomas, 21 December, in 1120. His parents were Normans and whilst not nobility, they were well-connected and could afford to give Thomas a good education. Age 20, he spent a year in Paris and later had a position in the household of the Archbishop of Canterbury. Archbishop Theobold sent him on missions to Rome and to study in Italy and France. By 1154, Thomas was Archdeacon of Canterbury and January 1155 he became Henry II’s Lord Chancellor. The King sent his son (another Henry) to live in Becket’s household. The King and Thomas were firm and trusted friends.

Thomas was nominated Archbishop of Canterbury in 1162, after Theobald’s death. Henry II thought he could continue to count on Thomas’ friendship and loyalty, and that he would put Royal needs above those of the Church.

He was mistaken. Matters went from bad to worse, with Thomas being convicted of contempt of royal authority and fleeing to the continent, where he spent several years.

In June 1170 the Archbishop of York and the Bishops of London and Salisbury crowned Henry II’s son as ‘Junior King’. This was a breach of Canterbury’s privilege of coronation, and so Becket excommunicated all three.

Who knows what really happened next? In school, I learned that Henry, in a moment of anger and exasperation, shouted:

“Will no-one rid me of this turbulent priest?”

It was enough for those four knights to gallop to Canterbury, break into the Cathedral and murder Thomas.

Henry was very sorry of course. Too late. And by 1173 Thomas was St Thomas, and his shrine and relics in Canterbury Cathedral had become a place of pilgrimage.

Later, another Archbishop of Canterbury, Stephen Langton, played an important role in the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215 Magna Carta – The British Library (bl.uk) and in 1540 King Henry III dissolved the monasteries and had St Thomas’ shrine destroyed; his relics were lost.

Canterbury Cathedral remains the ‘Mother Church’ of the worldwide Anglican Congregation and Archbishops of Canterbury, including the current Archbishop, Justin Welby, have continued to speak out not only on matters of religion but also politics and social questions.

So, before Christmas 2020 is quite over…

Header:File:Thomas Becket memorial in Canterbury Cathedral.JPG – Wikimedia Commons