The National Trust Is A Treasure

I was reading articles last week about The National Trust recently posting information highlighting the strong  links that roughly one third of their properties have to the slave trade. Not just properties, many many artifacts. The thrust of the message was that everytime we visit these beautiful houses and admire the exquisite antique ornaments and furniture we are looking at the unjust gains of acts of oppression and cruelty. I can only applaud The National Trust for that reminder.

Horrified was I to read that some people had taken issue at the decision from The National Trust to draw attention to this subject. It seems they resent the reminders about the scandalous slave trade. This is not something new. I have been visiting National Trust properties for years and as for a long time we used to receive a journal from them featuring their properties. I definitely recall them publishing articles at least ten years ago pointing out which of their properties were owned by families who made their fortunes as a direct result of the suffering of others.

Yet some people in recent weeks have claimed to be so incensed by being “lectured” by The National Trust or having a biased presentation of British history thrust upon them that they were ready to cancel their National Trust membership. That’s right, they don’t like being reminded that much of the wealth Britain has amassed was gained through oppression and abuse. Silly, isn’t it! Or callous!

Call it what you will. I don’t see anything wrong with wanting to visit these fascinating houses. They are beautiful. I don’t see anything wrong with admiring the workmanship of the masonry, the carpentry, the artistry and all the extraordinary skill that is on display in these properties.

I am grateful for institutions like The National Trust and English Heritage that protect these properties which help to educate us about the history of this country, which includes deeply shameful pages. They do preserve a different era and it is very interesting to be able to see all of that history. But of course anyone of good conscience should recognise that there is something seriously wrong with a system that allows people to oppress others and gain riches as a result.

Even more concerning is how those riches were then used. While so many people lived in deplorable conditions in the crumbling properties on the land of those rich folk, they were sometimes using their wealth to show off. These beautiful homes and furnishings were a statement of wealth, Worse, some of them squandered their wealth on drinking and gambling. I remember when Goldfinch and I visited Stowe School…we were shocked to learn of how the fortune of the family was thrown away within a short time by two wreckless men.

of great interest

It’s not just here that history highlights crimes that have been repeated for thousands of years. The “greatest” boasters in history often were those who committed some of the most cruel acts on a gigantic scale. In many cases, wealth and fame have been gained by wicked acts.

We traipse around the stunning relics of those criminals who were revered in their day, but are now judged under the light of the generally common feeling that wealth gained by wickedness is not ok. I will continue to visit these buildings and peer at the artifacts within them, but I am very glad to be reminded that what I am looking at is not just to be admired. It is also evidence that for a very long time some people were content to amass more and more for themselves and their family, and to show off to their friends, compete for respect and admiration, whilst many many others lived in very difficult conditions.

There were some who did use their wealth to try to improve their local communities – hospitals, schools, better accommodations for their poor tenants. That can be perceived as some “righteous” us of “unrighteous” riches perhaps. I would hope that the expenditure to benefit others was not an attempt to win acclaim or be held up as a “noble”. Yeah…it would make you feel much better knowing you were being treated in a hospital paid for by a mafia godfather or a drugs baron. Nope!

Riches acquired through criminal acts then used to benefit others is still not right. No wonder the statues, streets, theatres and other public buildings named after those who profited from abysmal abuse get up people’s noses! But I do worry about the conscience of some of the wealthy. I suspect that they had a false notion that they were “divinely favoured”, perhaps fed to them by a corrupt clergy. You know the same clergy that taught that people could pay money for prayers to be said to liberate their beloved relatives from “limbo”.

I often think that much of what people have done that was obviously wrong was sometimes perpetuated by a snivelling sermon giver, who at the same time as enjoying the favour of a wealthy parishioner, made them think they could take their success as a divine blessing rather than criminal gains.

Anyway…I could write so much on this subject. The trust of my post is that I think The National Trust are doing the right thing in reminding us that so many of these beautiful houses and artifacts have a notorious history behind them. We all know that is still happens today. Modern day slavery is an enormous and global problem. As long as it still happens we need to be reminded that is is wrong to profit from dominating others with cruel oppression.

Could The Whole World Just Halt For Five Minutes And Let Goldfinch And Me Get Off At This Stop Please?

Had to say au revoir to Goldfinch and climb on the train…and now I am back in London sulking.  Partly sulking because today was a perfect day and I didn’t want it to end.  But partly for another reason which I will enlarge upon.

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Photo credit: pasja1000 @ pixabay.com

The second reason I am sulky is that everywhere we went today there were people.  It is summer after all, and now that the World Cup is over and Wimbledon Tennis Championships and everything else that kept people on the sofa or at the pub seems to have evaporated…people are out at National Trust properties again – in large groups.  In addition Goldfinch has two housemates who we have to be considerate of and Goldfinch confessed he had not done any tidying up.  So I was not allowed anywhere near the man-cave today.

We did have a lovely day…we went to a beautiful location and had a lovely meal and afterwards ate triple chocolate cheesecake.  Goldfinch was just as wonderful and gorgeous as ever.  But there just seemed to be always someone there, spoiling every “moment” between us.

There was one brief moment inside the little music-room adjoining Florence Nightingale’s bedroom (at her sister’s house in Claydon, Buckinghamshire) where there was finally just he and I.  But it did not last for long.

I just wanted to curl up in a hammock holding tight to Goldfinch and listen to his voice all afternoon, rather than be squeezed into corners by large groups of National Trust visitors.  I wanted to have him all to myself and gaze into his eyes rather than being asked to move out of the way while somebody else took a photo.

So for these reasons, I have come back a tiny bit sulky (which is also probably because it is past midnight and I have been awake since 4.30am).  I saw this photo from from The Haunted Wordsmith  The Haunted Wordsmith and I thought…that’s where I would like to have been with Goldfinch – and please forgive me for being anti-social, but I would just want it to be he and I with no one else.

Could the whole world just halt for five minutes and let Goldfinch and me get off at this stop please?  This location would be just perfect for us.  You don’t have to be an esthete to appreciate why I would want to be at this stunning location on my own with Goldfinch…although we would need a larger hammock – is that a hammock?  Teresa Grabs I have no idea what is hanging from the tree, I am only guessing from something I picked up on in your post that it might be some kind of hammock, but please forgive me if I am totally wrong.

Goldfinch is a self-proclaimed hedonist and an esthete.  I have been a bit scared of these aspects to his character because they are absent from my own personality.  But today I finally understood…and tomorrow when I am not fighting to keep my eyes open, I will explain what it was that made me understand him better than ever today.

https://thehauntedwordsmith.wordpress.com/2018/07/22/worth-a-thousand-words-6/

via Esthete — Word of the Day Challenge

Understanding What He Meant By “Hedonist”

Do you like visiting castles, stately homes, palaces and places of historical interest? Goldfinch has taken me to National Trust properties several times…I must say I have loved our trips.  I told him the other day, “I like to think of these visits as “house-hunting”.

This weekend we were in Buckinghamshire and we paid our respects to Claydon House.

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Months ago, Goldfinch told me something about himself that I did not really understand. He labelled himself a “hedonist”.  I was a bit taken aback.  To me that word does not have a connotation I think my father would approve of.  “Hi, Dad, I would like you to meet the man I am in love with, he is a hedonist! Isn’t that spiffing?”

I have often pondered over what on earth Goldfinch means when he describes himself as a hedonist.  You see he doesn’t drink alcohol except on a rare occasion.  Neither does he drink tea or coffee.  I ply him with water and juice when he comes to visit me.  I have occasionally seen him order a Coca-cola in a pub – but that’s not a marked sign of hedonism is it?

He does not smoke or use any substances that alter the mind or give an artificial high. He plays badminton, occasionally squash.  He draws and paints.  He is a serious gamer – and I don’t mean the gambling kind – I am talking about board-games like “Dominion”. He likes the cinema.  He likes music.  He likes travelling and hiking.  He likes my home-cooking (brave man) and all the cakes I have baked for him.  He is also a hard worker. All of these are great interests, but none of them strike me as synonymous with hedonism.

This weekend I finally grasped what drives Goldfinch.

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He here is indulging in pleasure seeking at it’s best!

There was a mulberry tree and as soon as Goldfinch saw he was excited.  He was eating the fruit right off the tree and picking perfectly ripe berries and placing them in between my lips.  He had red juice all over his fingers and all over his mouth.

He was glowing with pleasure!  Today I saw a little boy who  grew up with a mulberrymulberry jam tree in his back garden and was intoxicated with the pleasure the mulberry fruit brought him.

The latest treat I am sending in the post, wrapped in several layers of bubble wrap – mulberry jam.

You will probably concur with the definition of HEDONIST I found online: “a person who believes that the pursuit of pleasure is the most important thing in life; a pleasure-seeker”.

I don’t consider myself a hedonist.  I enjoy pleasure, but it is definitely not the most important thing in life to me.  I consider joy as superior to pleasure.  Joy sometimes results from having to say no to what may seem pleasurable for sound and wise reasons. My parents taught us to focus on a long-term view and how to reap joy and deep satisfaction from being able to look back at persistent efforts and have no regrets or troubled conscience.  My parents emphasised the need for balance.  So a word like “hedonism” seemed an assault with the mindset we have cultivated.

Goldfinch knows how to relax.  He knows how to enjoy life.  He is willing to try new things and is adventurous.  If he doesn’t see any harm in something and he thinks it will likely be pleasurable, he will give it a try.

Seeing Goldfinch intoxicated by the pleasure the mulberry tree gave him, made me fall in love with him all over again.  I told him as we walked along hand-in-hand, “Until today I never really understood what you mean when you described yourself as a hedonist.”  I asked him later when we were relaxing in the park together: “Would you like to live forever?”

Now that I have seen how Goldfinch lives his life – unshackled by bad habits I would normally associate with hedonists, but rather, making the most of his time away from work.  Enjoying life and creation and letting the pleasure ripple through him.  I like it.  I am not ashamed of his kind of hedonism at all!

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