Friday, January 11, 2008
Sackroyd's Piddle - A Gentle Stream
The river Piddle is born deep in the rolling chalk hills of Dorset and flows and matures till its death in the world's largest natural harbour at Poole. Thus it symbolises the travel that we must all do along the road of life, a journey repeated across the centuries and millennium that this river has seen. Is it fanciful to hear echoes of re-incarnation in this repeating cycle? Together with the parish churches its passes, this river has deep religious significance, ecumenically connecting the Christian and Buddhist faiths.
Dorset is of course the home of that great writer Thomas Hardy (*). His melancholy can be heard on a frosty winter day as ice forms around the river banks. He would have known the river well, visiting Puddletown as a child, which is commemorated as Weatherby in "Far from the Madding Crowd". It is literally a literary river.
It's name speaks of the mundane nature of life in the great scheme of the universe, the daily acts of the living. Just as the great pubs along his length revel in the joys of hearty meals and strong drink. There has been beer drunk by its side for hundreds of years, the satyranic pipes of pan joining in with the solemn ringing of Church bells. Sunday picnics and romantic trysts are one to its ever twinkling eyes, both serenaded by its gentle trickling.
It is a historic river, for its passes through Tolpuddle (*), home of the eponymous martyrs. Here was born th Trade Union movement that changed the balance between capital and labour for ever. In the blood, bones and bodies of the martyrs ran the waters of the Piddle. And they connect the river to the Anglo Saxon communities of the world, through their punishment of transportation to Australia and travels to Canada. The waters of the Piddle have truly changed the world.
(*) to quote Nigel Molesworth "all the fakts are corect for a change" see: