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Banishing stereotypes

11th November

Just near the bridge in Dulverton, there is a statue of Lorna Doone. For anyone who is unaware, Lorna Doone is a fictional character, the eponymous heroine in a novel by RD Blackmore published in 1869.

The full title of the novel is Lorna Doone : A Romance of Exmoor and, along perhaps with some of the poetry of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, it stands as one of Exmoor’s most obvious literary contributions.

In what I am hoping is not too cliched a way, I am reading Lorna Doone at the moment and enjoying using the locations of the novel to inform my burgeoning understanding of the actual geography of the area we now call home.

(There are some very long sentences in the novel and my last sentence - and, indeed, this sentence - are attempts to replicate the grammatical complexity of a sentence that Blackmore clearly enjoyed, while still attempting to keep my modern audience enthused or, at the very least, awake.)

If you’re still reading, you’ll be interested in one particular (relatively short) sentence in chapter 9 :

And no Devonshire man, or Somerset either (and I belong to both of them), ever thinks of working harder than his Maker meant for him.

Stereotyping is always a dangerous path to follow, and ignores all complexities and context. But, in popular culture, it has to be said that the laid back approach to life is something that is often associated with the West Country even now, as it was back in Victorian times.

But I am here today to banish that stereotype.

At Nutsford House, we are having work done. Bathrooms, septic tank; drinking water, waste water; tiling, skimming. Bashing, banging; drilling, cracking. You name it, it’s happening here at the moment.

And all the people who are making all the noise - or, to put it another way, completing crucial renovations to make Nutsford House an attractive place to visit - are working incredibly hard, the guys outside even in some pretty average weather. No slacking, no shirking. Devonshire and Somerset men labouring as hard as anyone else!

The only stereotype here is me, reading Lorna Doone.

Back to my reading …

PS Fact checkers, Dave actually hails from Lake Como in Italy, but he lives in Somerset!

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