Editor’s letter

black symbol of anarchy. A letter in a circle painted with spray paint on a grungy old fence on the

Anarchy in the Cotswolds, 12th century-style, was a lot wilder than its 20th-century counterpart - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

July 2022

I’ve been enjoying Danny Boyle’s excellent Sex Pistols biopic, Pistol, on Disney+ – hell, I even took out a three-month subscription specially – and am considering sitting down to watch it all over again. Yes, it’s really that good.  

I was 12 years old in 1978, and the only female ‘punk’ in the village of Saul. I use the term loosely, however, as I didn’t understand the politics – what with Saul lacking in inner-city angst, an’ all – but Vaseline-spiked hair, lurid nails and a snarl seemed to me all the credentials needed. I even painted over my dinner plate-sized Silver Jubilee badge from the previous year with the word ‘PUNK’ and a badly rendered safety pin (sorry, Your Majesty).  

The Pistols undoubtedly did change the political and musical landscape, but their brand of anarchy lasted a mere two-and-a-half years before imploding under the cynically ruthless rule of Malcolm McLaren and his hideously overpriced tartan bondage trousers. So, let’s go back to 12th-century England, where ‘The Anarchy’ – in the form of a brutal civil war – lasted a full 18 years. Take that, Malcolm. 

Stephen Roberts’ excellent article on page 200 of this issue details the incredible events following the death of Henry I and accession of his daughter Matilda – and her cousin Stephen who was having none of it. It’s a gripping read of rampaging armed gangs, captured castles and a daring escape across a frozen River Thames. The Cotswolds was at the heart of much of the action – that even God famously turned His back on – and it puts Johnny Rotten’s posturing in perspective. 

In this issue, we also look at the work and lives of the subversive ‘concrete’ – or visual – poets, including Nailsworth’s John Furnival, who graduated from the Royal College of Art in the 1960s and rubbed shoulders with the likes of David Hockney and John Cage. His work – and that of other Cotswold concrete poets – is being celebrated in an exhibition at Nailsworth’s Festival of Words this month and is sure to be a fascinating insight into their work. 

Add to that the world premiere in Cheltenham of Conor Mitchell’s composition based on the love letters between composer Benjamin Britten and tenor Peter Pears; Freya Waley-Cohen’s operatic piece celebrating the Witch figure; Dom Joly looking for alien life in New Mexico; and a celebration of Tewkesbury’s Bloody Meadow, and you’ve a mix eclectic enough to entertain the most demanding of modern-day upstarts. 

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In the immortal words of Peter Richardson in The Comic Strip Presents Bad News, “It’s all anarchy, innit.” 

Candia McKormack 
Editor, Cotswold Life magazine 
Twitter: @cotslifeeditor


Three things we learned this month... 

Monk-ey business 
A Benedictine monk at Prinknash had his typewriter confiscated by fellow monks fed up with the noise. 

Oasis for orchids 
Thirteen different species of orchid have been recorded at Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust’s Swift’s Hill, near Slad. 

Wish you were here? 
A farmhouse in Broadway made headlines last summer after the price for a week’s stay hit £15,000. 

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