Growing Weed on Lord Clitheroe’s Estate

Growing Weed on Lord Clitheroe’s Estate

For those checking in for tips on outdoor marijuana cultivation, I’m sorry to disappoint. The weed in question here is Himalayan balsam: introduced into parks and gardens by Victorians with a penchant for the exotic, only to rapidly spread along the country’s arteries; the railways, canals, rivers and roads choking the embankments the length and breadth of the country. Around here each summer the river banks are garlanded in their pink flowers. They are non-native, invasive and extremely resilient, with all attempts to eradicate them having had little or no effect and like the rhododendrons are here to stay.

Which got me thinking about what constitutes a native and how long does it take to belong?

It’s a valid question with Brexit upon us and people who have lived and worked here for many years being made to feel as if they don’t really belong. Likewise, the Windrush scandal had the Home Office deporting people back to Britain’s former colony of Jamaica despite having lived here for fifty years. Their residence deemed temporary, while the South Asian community in British Uganda held British passports and were allowed to settle permanently. It seems arbitrary to say the least.

When it comes to flora and fauna the definition is quite specific, with the cut off point for native species being the erosion of the land bridge, separating us from continental Europe at the end of the last Ice Age. Alder and badgers are in, sycamore and brown hares, out – along with ourselves. We, the English/British are not the descendants of those ice age hunter-gatherers, left behind when the seas rose. We are the descendants of migrants from northern and southern Europe who came here and settled in the intervening years. The term Anglo-Saxon was loosely coined to describe the indigenous population after the Norman Conquest. Celts, Saxons, Jutes, Angles, Vikings, descendants of Roman auxiliary troops from Spain, Croatia, Romania. Groups that had over time formed a nation and a common language.

In the last millennium, communities of Flemish, Jewish, German, Irish, French, Italian, African, Caribbean, Polish and near and far eastern people have settled here. It’s part of a continuity that’s been going on for thousands of years. It doesn’t dilute our culture, it is our culture. Which brings me back to what constitutes a native and who is native?

The answer in the scientific sense is none of us. The brown hare, introduced by the Romans 1800 years ago is classed as non-native, which rules out most of us. Referring to ourselves as native or non-native is pointless, where’s the cutoff point? National identity is more about a sense of belonging, of kinship and shared cultural and social values. This applies whether your family roots here go back a generation or a millennium.

To give a few examples: Nigel Farage (French), Boris Johnson (French/Turkish) The Queen (German) Mark Ward (Anglo-Saxon). And while some of us may have been here longer than others, none of us are native in the true sense; we simply belong here.

Next month: Trespassing on the Duke of Westminster’s Land


  1. We, of course, have Trump who is half German and half Scots but have, to date, found know one to take him. We have many that feel letting in immigrants will destroy the place. The 41 native American tribes agree feeling they should have never allowed the Mayflower to land at Plymouth Rock.

    • If he’s entitled to a German passport, maybe you should follow our Home Secretary’s lead on problem duel-nationals and strip him of his American citizenship?
      I’m sorry about the Indians – that’s your Declaration of Independence for you?

      • It was the British that came up with the idea of scalping people so they could pay the Indians to kill settlers & French military.

    • I must correct you – If you’re not a Native American Indian then you must be an immigrant – and the ‘place being destroyed’ from the ‘first peoples’ (as I prefer to call them) perspective is already ruined for them: so that boat has already sailed. So, the immigrants have not so much destroyed the place as made the place. At the expense of the ‘first people’ of course.

  2. Who would have thought Mark Ward was more ‘English’ than the Queen?

  3. As a callow youth, I relished the embraces of a fine young lady under that bridge. Not too long ago I found myself doing business with a bloke, a little younger than I, who introduced me to his wife. Shit happens. But thankfully the lady and I swerved any visible embarrasment. However, when he started talking about their kids, I made my excuses and fucked off smartly. I used to drive over that bridge with a gleam in my eye. Now it’s a chill at the bone.

    • It’s all just water under the bridge.

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