The New Year has got off to an inauspicious start as far as I am concerned. The weather has been awful and as a direct result I have had a fortnight of imposed silence due to phone and Broadband being cut by two large trees coming down. In addition, the storms have damaged my chimneystack and water is getting in though the crack and caused damage to interior walls and ceilings. Never mind, we must get on with it!
This Saturday I am going to be out on Lemon Quay in Truro helping to put the case for a Cornish Assembly, and it is one aspect of this that I wish to comment on further. Why can’t we be happy to be the same as everybody else? Why do we have to be different to the rest of England? The answers to this are legion, so I will pick a couple at random.
During my formative years, (I’m still in them I think!), I needed some kind of spiritual guidance, some light at the end of the tunnel. I tried lots of religions, faiths, and belief systems, many of which I found to be patronising and hypocritical. Then from a sporting and fitness perspective I took up Judo. This caused me to study all things Japanese and to speak to a lot of Japanese people. As I progressed I wanted to explore the thinking of the sages, so I asked dumb questions like, “I don’t like losing, how can I learn to be a winner”
One of my elderly Japanese instructors explained about Yin and Yang.
“If you didn’t lose, you wouldn’t know what winning is”
Secondly, I quite like art despite being a scientist by training. When you look at great paintings or listen to wonderful pieces of music, it is not the sameness that makes a thing beautiful; it is the differences in texture and tone that creates a masterpiece. Therefore – Viva la difference!
If we are going to maintain the “difference” of Cornwall, it is important that these “textures and tones” don’t become faded and have their corners chipped off. Because I spent part of my career as a teacher and tutor, I am very keen on education. Education is a very important part of cultural identity, and therefore I think it is an appalling fact that Cornish history is not taught to Cornish children. I sometimes do a test and ask young people in the street who invented the steam engine. A lot of them think you mean a steam train and say Stevenson and his Rocket, the more astute ones say Watt. The answer to both these variations on the question is Richard Trevithick. There may be some of you who are inclined to believe that Newcomen invented the steam engine, but his engine was an atmospheric engine using vacuum created by condensing steam to work the piston, Trevithick’s was the first engine to use steam pressure direct as the motive power.
Therefore you can guess I was most pleased when my thirteen year old Granddaughter told me that in the study of the Industrial Revolution during history lessons at school, she had been taught about Richard Trevithick’s various engines, and the fact that one of Watt’s agents Murdoch, was the first to use coal gas for lighting in Redruth. She had also been told in Chemistry lessons about the prodigy Davy, who used an electric current to isolate elemental Sodium, and that he too came from Cornwall. The revelation is that she goes to school near Philadelphia in Pennsylvania USA!
I think Michael Gove should go to the USA to complete his education.