I do think that the legacy of the Norman conquest is still strong in Britain. Our hereditary monarchy, our established church, our ancient county structures, though hollowed out in many ways, are a direct result of what happened in 1066.
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We enjoy telling ourselves that we will soon be gods, masters of the planet, manipulating the genes of living creatures and rebuilding the world at a nano-level as we lie back in our hammocks, attended by our robot servants. I don't believe a word of it, and I'm not sure many of us do.
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micel walcan wolde we do from that daeg micel walcan in the great holt the brunnesweald but though we walced for wices months years though this holt becum ham to me for so long still we did not see efen a small part of it so great was this deop eald wud. so great was it that many things dwelt there what was not cnawan to man but only in tales and in dreams. wihts for sure the boar the wulf the fox efen the bera it was saed by sum made this holt their ham. col beorners and out laws was in here as they was in all wuds but deop deoper efen than this was the eald wihts what was in angland before men here i is meanan the aelfs and the dweorgs and ents who is of the holt who is the treows them selfs. my grandfather he telt me he had seen an aelf at dusc one daeg he seen it flittan betweon stoccs of treows thynne it was and grene and its eages was great and blaec and had no loc of man in them. well he was blithe to lif after that for oft it is saed that to see an aelf is to die for they sceots their aelf straels at thu and aelfscot is a slow death
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What does interest me is how difficult my culture seems to find it to look the dark side of life directly in the eye. It seems to me that if we look back at mediaeval culture, for example, we see a society which faces the reality of death and pain and limitation, because it has to. Our society, which is progressive and technological and seems to have a slightly fanatical utopian edge to it, gets very uncomfortable when anybody highlights the dark side of humanity, or the world we have built, or what we are doing to the rest of life on Earth.
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