The year when nothing happened

There was an Easter tale about a Painswick family who rather oddly renamed their pet hamster Jesus a

There was an Easter tale about a Painswick family who rather oddly renamed their pet hamster Jesus after it rose from the dead on Good Friday - Credit: Archant

Adam Edwards looks back on ‘the year when nothing happened’: No snakes were found, Cirencester Market Place remained untouched and no Big Cats were sighted. There was, however, a hamster called Jesus.

So farewell then 2013, with its ups, downs and post-Olympic hangover; with its bitter winter, cold spring and glorious summer. National news was thin compared to last year. The big stories were the birth of Prince George, Blockbusters going bust and the great storm of early November failing to be great. But how did the Cotswolds fare in this the Chinese Year of the Snake?

Well, besides the fact that there has not, to my knowledge, been a single sighting of a snake there have been other things that did not happen in our hills. We haven’t, like the Chilterns, been a battleground over a high-speed rail link. We haven’t been identified as an area for fracking or been chosen as a suitable corner of England for a 10,000-home new town. We haven’t been plagued by wind farms and are not going to get our power from the Severn Barrage. We haven’t had an Olympic legacy to worry about or, as in 2012, a sporting event or game fair ruined by the weather. And in most parts of the Cotswolds, we haven’t even had much involvement in the row over the badger cull.

More local events haven’t happened either. In January it was reported that plans for tarting up the Market Place in Cirencester might go ahead. Talks to slink up the centre of Corinium have been going on since the Romans built an amphitheatre behind Waitrose, and nothing further happened in 2013.

In February the Highways Agency scrapped plans for a right-turn ban at the Air Balloon roundabout. The roundabout is probably the Cotswolds’ most famous landmark as it failures feature in national traffic reports most days of the week. There have been ongoing discussions about making it safer ever since Walter Powell’s balloon disappeared over it without trace in 1784, but this year nothing was done.

In the first half of the year plans were unveiled for a second, third or fourth time for a new cinema in Cirencester. A picture palace in the capital of the Cotswold has been considered ever since the fleapit that was the Regal was pulled down in 2003. [Editor’s note: A plan has now been approved.] No man with a shovel arrived on site in 2013.

And then there was the news of a scheme to renovate the decade-old derelict half built hotel on the A40, in Windrush, and convert it into 16 brand new apartments - plans methinks as fanciful as GCHQ opening its doors to the public.

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And of course there was the old chestnut that Big Cats are lurking in our hills. This year it was the turn of Dr Hemmings, a senior lecturer in equine science at the Royal Agricultural University to suggest the beasts might be wandering our hills. There were naturally no sightings of any such creatures in 2013.

And so what has been going on? There was an Easter tale about a Painswick family who rather oddly renamed their pet hamster Jesus after it rose from the dead on Good Friday. The family had buried the lifeless creature in a piece of kitchen roll in a one-foot deep grave the day before and overnight the pet clawed its way out of its paper shroud and into a cardboard box. A new playground that had been closed for months because of complaints that the swings and roundabouts were too brightly painted was re-opened without any repainting. The front door of Paul McCartney’s childhood home in Liverpool – where he lived from 1955 until 1964 – sold for £5,060 at South Cerney auctioneers Dominic Winter and a 14th coffee shop opened in the centre of Cirencester.

Other stories of note include a planning application, before the Cotswold District Council, for 37 bungalows – each with two floors. Lower Slaughter Parish Council chairman Christine Edwin announcing that selling ice creams and lollipops in one of the Cotswolds’ most popular tourist villages was “totally inappropriate”. Mirrors in the public toilets at the Westonbirt Arboretum were removed to stop swallows who mistook their own reflection as a rival attacking the looking glass.

The above is a somewhat selective summation of our 2013. However, there is an apocryphal Chinese curse that reads ‘may you live in interesting times’, although I believe the actual less pithy jinx is ‘it is better to be a dog in peaceful times than a man in a chaotic period’. Either way it is safe to say that those of us in the Cotswolds who struggled through the Year of the Snake can boast we were cursed to live in a dull old year.


This article by Adam Edwards is from the December 2013 issue of Cotswold Life