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In praise of Isaac Watts and Jane Turnbull

Standing in the air-conditioned Presbyterian Church in West Chester, Pennsylvania yesterday morning, I heard a hymn by Isaac Watts sung with gusto before I headed to the airport and the green fields of Pennsylvania disappeared below the wheels of my plane. Watts had interesting things to say about freedom and logic in his books and hymns.

I am now back in the cool night air of Portland, Oregon, and reading about Jane Turnbull, who is facing the same kind of bureaurcratic narrow-mindedness that inventor Frank Whittle confronted when he was trying to get jet planes off the ground.

Jane is 79-years-old. For the last eight years, she has tended a public flowerbed alongside a road in her Wiltshire village. Devil's Advocate writes,

"Mrs Turnbull has now been told that she can’t tend the council-owned space in future unless she erects three warning signs, employs the services of a lookout and wears a high-visibility jacket. Quite why she’s been spared the hard hat, I don’t know. . .Luckily, Mrs Turnbull, who pays for the plants out of her pension, is made of sterner stuff than the wimps who cravenly caved into things like the smoking ban. 'They can send me to jail if they like,' she says. 'I just want to be left alone to do it.'

That’s the spirit. We need to rebel against nonsense like this.

I feel pretty sure that Watts and Whittle would agree.