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Letter to America: Plus ça Change... On:2022-02-18 18:10:00

My Dear Americans,
    It will probably surprise you to know that I have actually spent the majority of my life (so far) in the States: twenty-odd years, well, actually 22 odd years.... and 20 even ones (since I arrived and left in odd numbered years), 42 years in total since I left Britain and a whopping 54 since I left the Beccles of my birth. Now that I've returned it certainly surprises me that, during that whole vast backward and abysm of time, absolutely nothing has changed back home

---No, no, sorry, let me read that again, I mean: it certainly surprises, and indeed astounds, me how absolutely everything has changed, mostly for the worse. The town of Beccles is now infested with affluent DFLs who roar about far too fast in cars that are far too big for our essentially mediæval streets with their essentially bronze-age sidewalks, and they've caused an explosion in the building of houses and apartment blocks on any bit of unregarded land and even in (God help us) actual housing developments. Big ones!
And lest the DFL label should confuse you listeners who are so far from the UK capital, it refers to those who are 'Down From London', or as a proper Becclesian might say "Cugh-t'-hell them damn buggers dun from Lunnin".
And this influx has encouraged, not only the building of buildings, but of by-passes, you know, the sort of large roads that surround a town only to lure more and more cars into it: thus requiring more by-passes to pass by those by-passes in a never-ending sequence.

And within the town there has developed a depressing pandemic of hairdressers (vide dextra), both male and female and mixed (or possibly neither) interspersed with charity shops wherein secondhand items are used to raise money And if you think I'm exaggerating, note that today as I walked down one of the more majorish streets, six tenths of a mile according to my iPhone, and a bit wiggly according to the English fashion (and admittedly in the English fashion changing its name from time to time. but essentially the same street joining the same two spots more-or-less directly) I counted 17-ish hair-ish establishments.
[1They were, in rough spatial order: the 'Istanbul Barber', 'Brown N Crew' and 'Meka Hair Design' (all in a bunch); then right next to 'Beccles Barber Company' is 'Walk-In Hair Salon' (presumably catering to impulse hair cutting); a bit further along and surprisingly right on a corner is the 'Corner Salon'; then there's 'The Blossom Clinic' which is an "aesthetic nurse clinic", very strange and very, VERY pink; right next door is 'VOS Hair and Beauty' which is neither; opposite these is the rather prosaically named 'Hair Stylists' (setting themselves off from the crazier appellations); then there's 'Redz Hair Stylists' right next to 'Emanuel Barbers' who set themselves off with dummy bearded guy that they dress up for the season; then 'Couture Hair & Beauty'; then 'Rogue Barbers' where no doubt you ask for a trim and they give you a Mohawk; then there's 'VEEWON', creative hair dressers (as distinct from the previous, presumably destructive ones); 'Nicola's'; 'Fleet's Barber Shop; and finally 'Groomtastic Dog Spa', which I suppose only counts if you are very generous with your definitions.]
Almost no other trade survives: the only really big and local department-ish store of my youth is gone and the only non-hair and charitable sector doing well is the optical, presumably encourage by a quick glance at the habits of the DFL drivers.

But all this horror is as nothing compared with the greatest most horrible change of all, a change so great and horrible that it encompasses not just Beccles, but the whole country, a change that, it seems I am the only one with the courage and audacity to speak of. We all know of the evil power and powerful evil of Big Oil, Big Coal, Big Pharma, Big Farming and the like. Few know the true depravity of Big Packaging, the folks that brought you (and I speak here mainly to older listeners like myself who now need drugs for non-entertainment purposes), brought you those adult-proof (cunningly mis-branded as child-proof) caps and so-called security sealings and wrappings of impenetrable durability to the container of every even vaguely health-related product.
In the Britain of today Big Pharma and Big Packaging have been overtaken, and now lie quivering abjectly, in thrall to Big Blister Pack.
No medicines available here are provided in other than little cardboard boxes containing the vicious instruments of torture devised by Big Blister Pack, and if you have struggled to open a bottle of Tylenol or the like, imagine how horrible it is having to force every single pill individually out of it own little blister in an adamantine sheet every morning or week or whenever the need drives you. These blisters being specifically designed so that anyone without the dexterity of a concert pianist who is also a prestidigitator and a weightlifter is put at a serious disadvantage. Indeed I strongly suspect that blister packs are so named because you get blisters opening them.
Consider a simple low dose pain medication and blood thinner (OK Baby Aspirin: vide infra) each pill sealed into the mean little oubliette of its blister, that place of derelict grief2, by foil AND by some sort of film that is so strong that if you didn't need pain relief before approaching it, you certainly do after. This film is obviously a byproduct of the development of Kevlar, a substance that actually had to be rejected for being far too strong.

Kindest regards,
Richard Howland-Bolton
and, of course,
Cheerio for now
from me!


1 The whole section between '[' and ']' was omitted from the broadcast version for reasons of length.

2 See 'Thomas Cranmer of Canterbury' by Charles Williams (who, in this case, has a lot to answer for).

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