I was driving along the M4 yesterday when i heard an explosion from the back of the car. A tyre had burst and my car wobbled nervously from the fast lane towards the hard shoulder. To my relief, a signpost to junction 18 appeared and , like the hapless formula one driver I’m not, I managed the car from motorway to the A46.
Within an hour, I was a guest of Briant’s excellent tyre shop thanks to guidance from the AA. It was great getting my tyre changed, watching great lorries and tractors being re-trod, chatting about football with the mechanics and trying to forget my 4pm appointment in London.
Three hours later I was sitting in St Paul’s Cathedral listening to Evensong and shortly after I attended the St Pauls Feast at the Hall of the Mercer’s Livery Company, dining with my mother and the fine company of parents and students of my son’s school.
As I cycled up to Euston this morning, I was trying not to think about what I didn’t follow in parliament yesterday – the WASPI debate. There flashed upon my inward eye (that is the bliss of solitude), remembrance of my road trip and of the great kindness that had been shown me.
I can hardly call it an epiphany, that’s too grand a word, but I did feel a little overwhelmed when I considered how lucky I am to be living at this time, in this place called Britain, that has such people, such places and such history.
It would be wrong of me to brag, I hope you don’t think every day is made up of such happy diversity, but I think the word “celebrate” is the one I’m grasping at. Though the events of each day seem random, the outcome of my days is consistent, I feel I have a sense of purpose that I cannot remember at any time in my life since I was at school.
This fulfilment is- I am sure- linked to being a part of something much larger, an enterprise of State that covers a payroll seminar in Bristol, a tyre-shop near Bath, the great St Paul’s cathedral and a livery company with a heritage dating to the 14th century.
We are all a part of Langland’s “Field of Folk“, a part of this enterprise. The enterprise is no different to when Peirs Plowman saw society laid out before him from the Malvern Hills. Today’s Pension Plowman follows, less poetically, in Langland’s tracks, his vehicle an ageing BMW and a South West Train.
Along with all who have arrived in Britain since the late 14th century, I’m living this dream, conscious of my good fortune to be British.