COMMENT: Westwell of Ely by Rosemary Westwell

Rt Rev Stephen Conway, Bishop of Ely

Rt Rev Stephen Conway, Bishop of Ely - Credit: Archant

The law IS an ass We all know the law is an ass, but sometimes it is even more of an ass than you can imagine. Lately I discovered that if you want to have fun with your neighbours – put up any old ramshackle construction close to your neighbour’s enormous tree and sooner or later the tree will cause subsidence.

donald trump

donald trump - Credit: Archant

It seems possible to do this because, correct me if I am wrong: our planning authority has the power, but NOT THE DUTY to see that planning regulations are observed.

Even if the tree has a preservation order, the council is more than likely to withdraw the order because it is too scared it might be sued for not doing so. Then, guess who has a legal obligation to cut down the tree and who has to foot the bill? Certainly not the person who built the flimsy construction, it is the owner of the tree who has to do the lot – even if the tree had been there long before the new building. (I should make it clear that my neighbours have NOT done this to me!) Time for a change in the law eh? It makes you think again about planting trees too eh?

Too much sex?

A number of people have complained that some of our TV shows lately are just too saucy for comfort. It is as though all standards have been lowered too far. However, as Germaine Greer points out, works that are a tad too naughty have been around and enjoyed for centuries. One protagonist she offers is William Shakespeare. She gives ‘Venus and Adonis’ as an example. While we are on the subject, I’m amazed that our teenagers are encouraged to study the poetry of John Donne for their A-level exams – his ‘Elegy To his Mistress Going to Bed’ is certainly no lament for the dead, unless you start thinking metaphorically, but you don’t even need to do that to see what I mean!

Donald Trump is coming to the UK

Think I am joking? Not a bit of it. Recently it was reported that Trump says he is coming to the UK for the opening of his Scottish golf course at Turnberry on June 24 after the resort has had major refurbishment.

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You have realised of course that this is by coincidence the day after our referendum. I’m not sure what kind of reception he will get having already blotted his copy book with Cameron in the past and having said the Scottish politicians are ‘foolish, small minded and parochial’ after putting in wind turbines near his golf course. No doubt they will have something interesting to say to HIM when he arrives.

Even a bishop is allowed an opinion

There has been an outcry after the Bishop of Ely signed a letter to the Observer supporting remaining in the EU. Surely a chap is allowed an opinion, even when he’s wearing a dog collar?

No doubt there would still have been an outcry if he’d signed a letter from the Brexit campaign. At least he knows what he is going to vote for, for there are a number of us who haven’t a clue – no matter how many politicians we listen to, no one seems to REALLY know what will happen if we stay in the EU or if we leave. Anyone got a coin to toss? (Although if it’s a 50p piece honouring Beatrix Potter – hang on to it, rumour has it that it could be very valuable on Ebay).

How should we discipline our children?

The recent news item about the boy abandoned by his parents in a wood in Japan as a punishment for throwing stones has made us think: just how should we chastise our children? If you read the experts’ books, apparently you should sit down with your children, discuss things together and come to an agreement about where the boundary lines should be drawn, what your children should and should not do and what punishments would be given if they broke the rules.

I mean, have you ever tried to sit down with a family these days? One local came to the conclusion that the only way to get the family to sit down together was to take them to a fast food restaurant, much against her will. Even then, after her offer was accepted – one of the parents decided they would go and get the food as a takeaway. You can’t win sometimes.