Buildaburger Conference 24th July 2013 – The National Crust


On the same date that the new royal baby, still unnamed, was revealed to the plebeian masses, I spent the day as a contractor (a jobbing artisan if you like) working at Hardwick Hall, a superbly preserved architectural gem in Yorkshire, UK, dating from Elizabethan times. Quite naturally my mind is drawn to thoughts of democracy, socialism and the republic.

A common argument that I used to subscribe to is that the royal family is an economic asset to Britain, but these days I find it difficult to see how that is supportable given the financial burden that such an extensive entourage entails, and they do not manufacture anything.

As far as representing national culture is concerned, we already have a superbly effective custodian of British heritage, and that is the National Trust. The Trust maintains and runs Hardwick Hall amongst many other rich and fabulous visitor attractions around the country. I am a paid-up member and that affords me the regular and guiltless pleasure of walking in the footsteps of countless generations of privileged gentry without so much as a deep bow, a pulled forelock or any genuflection whatever. A mere flourish of my membership card gains me access to the bedchamber of Bess of Hardwick, one of the richest woman in England.

Bess was married four times and I bet she was a handful (in the good way). It makes me wonder how much action those four-posters saw.

Pictured here is a mutually shared lunch with a colleague from another city and a very different background, although with an equal enthusiasm for an eclectic and healthy diet. Sharing food (or breaking bread) with strangers is a universal expression of liberty, equality and fraternity and what you see here is a mixture of homemade and bought food representing a healthy balance of nutrition that would equally sustain humans from any strata of society.

Whilst I am still a worker, and happy to be so with no prospect of privilege, I cannot help but hope that the coming generation of royalty will be the ones to witness a republican Britain.

And when that happens, they, like us, will still be welcomed in every stately home in England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland although they will have to share it. We are demonstrably post-royalty and I am calling this shared picnic The National Crust.


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