The Wonderful Mr Charles Dickens – Astrology Musings

After the mysterious William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens is probably ranked second in the all time greats of English writers — though to compare them is difficult as they lived more than two centuries apart and wrote in differing genres.

Neither is it possible to do a credible analysis of the Bard’s birth chart as we don’t know when exactly he was born, whereas we do know when Master Charles Dickens arrived in this troubled world.

Virgo Rising

It must have been pretty cold that late winter evening in 1812, in the famous port of Portsmouth on the south coast of England. At the time, the mutable earth sign of Virgo was rising on the eastern horizon. I think this pretty much correlates with a known part of the great Victorian writer’s character.

Virgo is always seen as analytical and critical, fussy and fastidious, with the keenest eye for detail and thereby a quick learner. The rising sign gives a good idea as to our approach to life, not necessarily revealing our inner nature.

As the young Charles grew up, this grasp of minutiae was serve him especially well, though this same quality might have led him along many different routes, not necessarily along a literary one. Virgo’s approach could be said to be scientific, though Charles basically lacked a full formal education of the time, for which we perhaps ought to be grateful; had he received one, he might well have chosen a different path and we might never have heard of him.

A Tale of Two Writers

Intriguingly, this may be one of two factors which the young Charles shared with Shakespeare of Stratford Upon Avon, who also appears to have not finished his own formal education. We do know that Dickens worked for a time in a law office in London, which some suspect the young Bard also did back in his day, when he too arrived in London during his so-called ‘missing years’. Dickens was a keen theatre goer too and may have grasped ideas of characterisation from that colourful arena. Virgo is a very keen observer indeed.

With Virgo rising, its ruler, Mercury, becomes the ruler of the chart. Interestingly, Hermes is placed in the cardinal earth sign of Capricorn in the 5th house. Mercury in Capricorn is practical, realistic, systematic and ambitious.

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A Serious Mind — With a ‘Twist’

But this Mercury is also in a positive aspect with Uranus, ‘the magician’ in the 3rd house, also associated with the mind. In other words, his mind was practically inventive — with a twist of genius, one would suspect.

Mercury in Capricorn denotes a mind which must see definite results from the considerable effort put in, mentally. The 5th house is the creative arena, where children of the mind are hewn, served by the brilliance of Uranus from the third house.

Saturn is also in its own sign of Capricorn in the same house. He is powerfully placed here, underlining the seriousness in which he applied himself to his creativity. At times it must have been a joyless experience — but he was determined to succeed.

Great Expectations

Here then is part of the root of his ambition as a writer; what he may have lacked in education, he made up with in sheer graft and more than a little invention. His prodigious output is testimony to that, with 15 novels, five novellas, hundreds of short stories and non-fiction articles, as well as countless letters.

But this is only the beginning of the extent of what was a very well developed mind. If Mercury gives an indication of the general everyday quality of mind, then Jupiter reveals the more expansive and aspirational side.

Showman

Dickens’ Jupiter is found in the mutable air sign of Gemini, high up in the tenth house of goals and career. Here is great flexibility, plus a curiosity and restlessness, a quality which he could apply to his career as a journalist, writer, as well as a lecturer and performer. There was something of the showman about him.

The 3rd and 9th houses are also indicative of the quality of mind. A Scorpio 3rd house in the whole sign house division method, reveals a mental intensity and investigative quality, bolstered here, as I have already stated, by the presence of the eccentric Uranus.

A Well Developed Mind

What is more, the ruler of Scorpio, Mars, is found in fiery Aries in the 8th house. Here is a person of some energy and verve, even a quick temper, but who applies it in the area of shared security, deeper concerns, such as investigation. Had he pursued his early career as a journalist, he might well have reached great heights there too. But he had his own path to follow.

His 9th house (higher mind again) is Taurus, ruled by Venus, which is found in sensitive and sentimental Pisces in the 7th house, closely conjunct the then undiscovered Pluto. Venus in Pisces has strong feelings, an almost spiritual ability to empathise with others, especially so in the 7th house of relationships. He definitely had the ability to put himself in other people’s shoes.

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The Pursuit of Social Justice

Pluto here only deepens this tendency; this may well correlate with his lifelong pursuit of justice for the poor and particularly poor children, whose plight he described so movingly in many of works. To say this man had a social conscience would be an understatement.

Equally, we also know that Dickens’ was a very fine mimic, able to take on the persona of others that he came across; this also correlates with his Venus/Pluto conjunction in Pisces in the 7th house. There is little wonder that when it came to portraying characters in print, he was able to make them seem so realistic, his Virgo ascendant giving him the ability to fine tune those intrinsic qualities of character.

Detachment

I have said a lot already, but not yet mentioned the Sun or Moon, two of the key factors in a birth chart. His sun in Aquarius in the 6th house describes his basic inner nature. Here is a man, who despite his deeply felt compassion for others, could also detach himself if so wished and thereby do greater good. He identifies with work and service to others in this regard, too.

Aquarius is said to be unusual, but I think this has only grown over the past two centuries after an increasing number of astrologers have made Uranus the prime ruler of this sign. I think this is an error.

Emotionally Expressive and Sentimental

Aquarius is ruled by Saturn, but the side of Saturn which plans for the longer future, at a time of late winter in the north of the world when general preparations are made for the onset of spring. Aquarius is a carer too, but not in the same way as the deeply personal uniting principle of Venus in sensitive Pisces.

His Moon is in Sagittarius, very close to Neptune in the 4th house. So here is yet another facet of this multi-dimensional character. He can be emotionally expressive, sometimes overly so and gushing. He is also deeply sensitive and sentimental about issues regarding home, family, women and the past.

A Host of Characters

Here may lie another facet of his ability to write so convincingly about the lives of people in the mid 19th century, aided by several other sensitive areas of his chart I have alluded to above. He writes so well because he feels so strongly. Yet none of this may have been possible if he hadn’t got the ability to compartmentalise, using his considerable intellectual gifts to formally present us with those wonderful creations in print.

Charles Dickens, like all of us, was several characters rolled into one. But his particular chemistry was one which gave sublime literary expression to the troubles and the characters of his time — and for that we must all be eternally grateful.

Copyright Francis Barker 2020

‘The Price of Protection’ A Mike Malone Murder Mystery, by Milly Reynolds

This is book number 14 in the Mike Malone Murder Mystery series by Milly Reynolds.

DI Mike Malone finds that an East End mob has set up camp in his adopted town. Businesses and proprietors are being threatened.

And, this is not the only problem that Mike has to solve. A monster is prowling the riverbanks in the dead of night. Protection is the keyword, but at what price?

Copyright Francis Barker 2020

The 1960s Cultural Revolution – Love Is All We Need? Part 1: The Dissonance of Neptune

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Of course, the mid 1960s cultural revolution is the stuff of legend. I am just about old enough to remember significant parts of it.

I started school in January 1964, less than two months after the Kennedy Assassination, a matter of weeks before the Beatles made their first iconic appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show in the United States in February.

The world really was changing and although few may have suspected it at the time, we had just got on board a big roller coaster. By the end of the decade the world really was a very different place.

Shaking Up

As someone who has had a long standing interest in astrology, I thought it was about time I had a look as to what was happening during this period.

Better astrologers than me, such as the great Dane Rudhyar, were assessing the situation with true vision around the time of the mid 1960s. They realised the significance of the Uranus Pluto conjunction in Virgo of 1965/6, that human culture and society was about to be seriously shaken up.

I have recently posted a couple of other pieces in regard to the important 127 years Uranus Pluto cycle, and in particular the conjunction. I believe that this has encapsulated symbolically the vast cultural changes of humanity, particularly since 1710-11 and most especially with the 1850-1 and 1965-6 cycle inceptions.

Generational Influence

The power of the outer planets, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto have emerged significantly into human consciousness since the discovery of Uranus 1781. I think they represent concepts which can be ‘utilised’ for generational effect.

Uranus brings the idea of thinking differently, revolution, turning things upside down, often for the sake of it. Neptune brings new beliefs, new ways to ‘unite’, concepts but also accompanying delusion, confusion. Pluto is fundamental power which is often hidden and all the potential danger that can bring.

The two planets Uranus and Pluto were drawing relatively close by late 1963. The shock of the Kennedy Assassination on November 22 1963 cast a long shadow over the entire world, but particularly in the United States of course, the most powerful country militarily and culturally.

Counter Culture

This awful event acted almost like a psychological primer for the emergence of the so-called Swinging Sixties and counter culture. Maybe here was evidence of the foreshadowing effect of the Uranus Pluto conjunction, the urge for change merges with fundamental power – a cultural revolution fostered at all levels of society.

I think we should also briefly examine the sign in which the conjunction was to occur, namely Virgo, the mutable earth sign. Virgo and the sixth house represent many totally practical facets of everyday life, our efficiency, work and health. In other words, this conjunction was potentially going to turn upside down all of that, it would be felt by everyone in their everyday lives.

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You Say You Want a Revolution?

And certainly from early 1964, with the cultural phenomenon that was the Beatles, the ensuing ‘British Invasion’ and everything that went with it, to important events like the true beginning of the Vietnam War in August with the Gulf of Tonkin incident, began to set the scene for the rampant cultural dichotomy of the period.

Very interestingly, Uranus Pluto were first exactly conjunct on John Lennon’s twenty fifth birthday, on October 9 1965. By this time the Beatles had virtually conquered the world through their music and films.

The conjunction in Virgo was roughly opposed by Saturn in Pisces, but was in easy aspect to Neptune in Scorpio. I think this is highly significant. Saturn represents the conservative (often religious) reaction to the societal changes, whilst Neptune essentially being in step with both from watery Scorpio cast an other worldly veneer over all of the growing melee.

Although I contend that the three outer planets do not rule any signs, and do not have personal influence – unless they are brought into the equation either through being angular or in strong aspect – I think they do have a transpersonal effect which needs to be carefully examined, even warned against.

Sex, Drugs and Rock n Roll

Although drink and drug abuse are often associated with this planet, I think Neptune also has much to do with music, particularly modern, sometimes formless, chaotic music. Neptune in Scorpio could be said to epitomise that ‘sex, drugs and rock n roll’ culture which developed at this crazy time.

Neptune’s transition through Scorpio from 1957 to 1970 witnessed this whole period of world in transformation and the planet’s sextile (60 degree) aspect to the Uranus Pluto conjunction in the mid 1960s particularly allowed mediums like music and also art to manipulate the masses into general acceptance. Music, after all, has a profound effect on the emotions.

Perhaps it was almost like an escape valve in which we were all invited, through the words of Timothy Leary, to ‘turn on, tune in, drop out’ – all very ‘druggy’ and Neptunian.

It was a concept which was to mushroom with all the power of a nuclear explosion in the ensuing years, encapsulated astrologically and symbolically by the transformative meeting of Uranus and Pluto in Virgo. The changes instigated at that time have only cast stronger ripples in our world since then.

Part 2 will follow soon.

Copyright Francis Barker 2020

 

Photograph: Louth, Lincolnshire

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Turning Point 1711 – Insight into the Origins of Britain as a World Power

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It is remarkable when one looks at a map of the entire earth and notice how insignificant the island of Great Britain appears, hovering as it does off the north west coast of Europe, neither separate from that continent, nor totally attached to it. Perhaps there is something prophetic about that island’s geographic position, looking westward out to the bleak Atlantic Ocean.

According to the historical narrative, relatively small nations had formed huge empires previously. Taking the accepted history of Rome being founded in 753 BC, this small city state expanded to rule much of the then known world by the second century AD. It is said that the influence of this empire is still strongly conspicuous today, especially in language, culture and government.

Spanish Gold

More recently, towards the end of the fifteenth century, the unification of the two Iberian kingdoms of Aragon and Castille, formed the more powerful kingdom of Spain, which went on to prosper the most from the ‘discovery’ of America by Christopher Columbus (Cristóbal Colón) in 1492. Within a mere few decades the Spanish empire dominated the new continent, north and south. Spain became very wealthy indeed during the sixteenth century.

Similarly and perhaps even more remarkably, Portugal, Spain’s feisty neighbour and rival on the western fringes of the Iberian peninsula, not only carved out an empire in South America (Brasil), but went on to dominate trade in the East Indies and to extend its empire to that part of the world and into Africa and its influence as far as Japan.

There are other examples, like ‘Holland’, more accurately called the Netherlands, or The United Provinces at one time, which also was an early beneficiary of trade and settlement in the Americas and the Far East.

Colouring the World Pink

However, no empire was ever as grand as the British Empire. By the end of the nineteenth century it was the empire upon which the sun never set. A schoolboy of the time could look at a map of the world and reflect upon the predominant colour of pink – all those lands, as far afield as Canada and New Zealand, where the British flag flew and the English language was spoken.

It is easy to think of empire building as organic, though this is never the case. A nation, or a people, often have a common purpose, though the vast majority are unaware of it. Nations and empires are steered, often by a few notable individuals and families with ambition and vision.

John Dee, Queen Elizabeth I’s astrologer who chose the timing of her coronation in January 1559, was one such man. I will merely allude to him here, but suffice it to say that he the first to talk in terms of a British Empire, even though technically the notion Britain was only a geographic, not political reality when he was alive.

Tentative Steps

Nevertheless, it was during Elizabeth’s reign that the first tentative steps were taken by English explorers to establish an empire in the name of the queen. Sir Walter Raleigh was one such remarkable individual who made attempts at settling in North America.

By 1707, the crowns of England and Scotland were legally united, officially creating the Kingdom of Great Britain. At the same time a highly significant war was being fought in large parts of Europe. This was a result of Charles II of Spain dying without an heir in November of 1700. The ensuing war is called The War of the Spanish Succession.

The British fought this war essentially to prevent either France or Austria uniting with Spain, and thereby creating a European superpower. Such an eventuality would have been clearly detrimental to Britain’s ‘interests’. It is an early example of a way of maintaining the balance of power – at least that’s the official line.

After ten years of warfare, the Holy Roman Emperor Joseph I died in April 1711 and was succeeded by the Archduke Charles, which effectively ‘solved’ the succession crisis, at least in the eyes of the British who began peace talks. This eventually resulted in the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, which established Great Britain as a naval and European economic superpower. Out of all the belligerents, only Britain could be said to have emerged from this conflict financially intact.

1710-11 – A Major Turning Point

This period centering around 1710 to 1711 was clearly a major turning point in British, European and world history. Astrologically too, we can see clear signs of the turning of a page, or the planting of a seed.

I draw your attention to the three then still undiscovered planets, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto, all representing other (perhaps higher) dimensional (invisible to the naked eye) aspects of the mind, unity and power. As far as we know, these forces were not known at this time, remaining hidden somewhere in the collective human unconsciousness.

Nevertheless when Uranus met Pluto in September of 1710 and remained close, especially during the spring of 1711 when the Emperor Joseph I died, we see the beginning of a new historical cycle, with Great Britain seizing the initiative at an important time of opportunity. Uranus brings new ideas, change, Pluto the idea of collective power.

The Seed of Power Planted

This Uranus Pluto conjunction happened to be in late Leo, also conjunct the fixed star Regulus, which has had a long association with royalty and royal power.

Equally fascinating, the other remaining undiscovered outer planet, Neptune, was for a time in conjunction with the benefic Venus and in very good aspect to Uranus and Pluto from Aries. I think this gave a kind of other worldly blessing to the birth of the new enterprise. It’s fascinating to think that the god Neptune traditionally ruled the seas and from this point on Britannia certainly did rule the waves.

I think the relationship of the three outer planets at this juncture perfectly symbolise the sign of the times, the changing of the guard and setting the scene for the next century or so.

Other significant events at around the same time were, among others, the founding of The South Sea Company on March 3 1711. This was a public/private company created to consolidate and reduce British national debt, something which none of the other participants in the War of the Spanish Succession would have. Remember that important conjunctions are good for starting something new.

The Origins of Steam Power?

Another intriguing development was the invention and application of what was called the ‘atmospheric engine’ by Thomas Newcomen in 1712. This steam driven device was initially used to successfully pump out water from tin wines in the south west of England, particularly Cornwall. It is not difficult to grasp the significance of this invention and its later use in the first steam locomotives later on.

There were also reports of the first successful hot air balloon flight at this time by a certain Bartolomeu de Gusmao. Although this occurred indoors, the fact that it happened at all is highly significant. Uranus, after all, is said to rule the air and scientific invention.

I think there is evidence here of the burgeoning ‘power’ of the three outer planets and their generational influence on human culture, an influence which would gain in impetus as each one was subsequently discovered over the next two hundred years.

Copyright Francis Barker 2020

The Great Exhibition of 1851 in London – Astrology Musings

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It is fairly clear to me that the timing of the opening of the 1851 Great Exhibition in Hyde Park, London, was certainly by design. I contend that this event encapsulated the then zeitgeist, thereby setting in motion a new world at all levels.

We need not be surprised by this. Astrologers had for centuries been consulted as to the most propitious time, astrologically, to begin a new project, a marriage, business, government, reign, or even country.

One of the most well known examples is John Dee’s choice of day and time for the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth I of England on January 15 1559. We can speculate as to the wisdom of his choice, although historians have certainly been highly favourable when writing about the so called ‘Virgin Queen’ ever since.

Astounded

When I found out the the date and timing of the opening of the Great Exhibition, I immediately looked at the chart – and was astounded, though not entirely surprised.

I will begin with the date itself, May 1. May Day has long had traditional pagan associations. In fact it would appear that this date was considered the most important of the year until fairly recent times, so we are told. The festival of Beltane celebrated the turning of spring into summer, usually involving fertility rites, bonfires, even sacrifices.

Then during the 19th century this same date became associated with international workers rights and the advance of international socialism. So at the very least, the choosing of this date is most intriguing. Even Queen Victoria herself made reference to “strengthening the bonds of union among the nations of the earth.” There was an internationalist flavour to this and all world’s fair events like it.

John Bull at his apogee

So let’s get into the meat here. By all accounts the exhibition opened around midday, soon after Queen Victoria, Prince Albert and their entourage entered the Crystal Palace. At this juncture the Taurus New Moon was only a few hours old, with both of the major luminaries conjunct the Taurean Midheaven of the chart, the part of the chart signifying goals and ambition.

A new Moon, or the ensuing hours after it, are traditionally thought to be the best time for new beginnings of any kind. In Taurus, anything to do with money or construction will be favoured, as long as it is also well aspected. The Moon is said to be exalted in Taurus, at her most fecund, promising further success.

This is highly symbolic timing for the beginning of this exhibition. It was not only to exhibit to the world the technological, economic and cultural hegemony of Great Britain for the next six months, but was meant to set the course for the remainder of this very ‘British century’, John Bull (Taurus) literally at the apogee, if you will. Taurus loves to establish and have firm footings.

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Pax Britannica – Great Britain ruling the waves

Appropriately enough too, royal Leo is on the ascendant loosely conjunct the fixed royal star Regulus. This makes the Sun ruler of the chart, as befits this very royal, if not imperial project. Although Queen Victoria was to lose her consort Prince Albert in 1861, she went on to become probably Britain’s most famous monarch – and Empress of India.

Interestingly, there is also a Venus Mars conjunction in Aries in the 9th house of philosophy, enterprise and long distance travel. The thrust of Mars is given a certain belligerence in his own sign, plus carte blanche to take it to the furthest corners of the earth.

The presence of Venus here adds a kind of benevolence too, maybe even the idea of Pax Britannica, the British Empire on which the sun never set. Great Britain ruling the waves (and pretty much everything else) indeed, as she proceeded to do for the next seventy five years.

Revolution meets irresistible force

However, this chart works on many layers, some of them quite deep. Around six weeks earlier in late March 1851, Uranus and the then undiscovered Pluto made the last contact of their recent coming together in Aries, a sign which is also strongly associated with England and Great Britain.

For example, the Christmas Day chart of 1066 set for the coronation of William I of England, has Aries on the ascendant. Many astrologers believe this chart still has much resonance today, and the Venus Mars conjunction in Aries in the Exhibition chart also links up with the 1066 chart’s action oriented Aries ascendant.

Now Uranus and Pluto meet up around every 172 years, so this represents a highly significant time astrologically. On the face of it, no one knew about the existence of Pluto at the time. Both Uranus and Pluto are still close together in the 1851 exhibition chart, straddling the Aries Taurus boundary. What is more, around the same time Saturn passed over both of these outer planets in late Aries and early Taurus.

With this I believe we get into some pretty deep territory. Since the discovery of Uranus in 1781, this planet became associated with sudden change and upheaval. Hence the revolution in France and the so-called Industrial Revolution, for example. It is as if an awareness of or need for change had suddenly entered our collective consciousness – the notion of ‘progress’, technologically and culturally.

Superconscious, transpersonal – or magical power?

However, if we think of this new discovery as a higher octave, or rather a superconscious (transpersonal) aspect of communicative Mercury, we might also get a better understanding of principles like insight, breakthrough and invention.

Maybe we have here the ability to draw on transpersonal energies – Uranus representing the initial breakthrough beyond the limiting boundary of Saturn, even if Ouranos, the old sky god which the new planet was named after, is in fact, ironically, the father of Saturn in  myth.

Perhaps the discovery, or even rediscovery of Uranus, is symbolic of the return of the magical power of the older gods.

If we consider the then undiscovered Pluto to be transpersonal power, as opposed to the personal expression of energy as seen in Mars, and all the potential danger that represents, then I think we get some idea as to the real significance of this new cycle which took place in Taurus in 1850 and into 1851.

Subterranean

It is almost like the magician Uranus utilising the deep power of Pluto for future use without mankind being aware of such subterranean force. Saturn passing over both just afterwards is acting like a coalescing agent of this transformative energy in the material world, a changing of the guard and setting the scene for decades ahead.

Every conjunction of Uranus and Pluto marks the beginning of a new cycle which appears to manifest in our world as a force for social and cultural change, but especially since 1851. The energies of transpersonal change and power come together as an almost irresistible force. People will argue as to the benevolence, or otherwise, of this energy.

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It would appear the power of this conjunction was being felt at least a year or so beforehand too. Look at the revolutions of 1848, for example, the biggest uprisings Europe as a whole had ever known, at least according to the known history. And even though little political change actually transpired as a result, the cultural significance in the long run was indeed manifest.

Setting the seal and precedent

We can therefore see that the Great Exhibition of 1851 did indeed set the symbolic seal of the times, showcased in the almost unbelievably magnificent Crystal Palace. The exhibition closed in October 1851. Then, remarkably, the great cast iron and glass edifice was transferred to another site in London. It seems little was beyond these Victorian engineers.

So ultimately, I believe the chart set for the inauguration of this important event is indeed highly symbolic. The next six months encapsulated Britain’s inheritance from the old world, yet more importantly, presaged her empire’s predominance in the world and the true beginning of ‘globalism’.

The beginning of globalism

Significantly, in the same year of 1851, we also see the establishment of the prime meridian of Greenwich, making London the de facto capital of the world.

It was around this same juncture too that one of the most important French literary figures, Victor Hugo, made a prophetic speech in regard to the idea of a united Europe. Even though such a ‘dream’ has never quite come to fruition, we can perhaps see the germ of this idea developing around this time, those first steps toward a global world.

The superpower which was Great Britain at the time was only nominally patriotic, in my opinion. Yes, Britons at the time could be proud of their empire, yet the real reach and purpose of this manifestation was to create a global world where the nation state, ultimately, would become redundant. The pros and cons of this movement are debatable.

The next meeting of Uranus and Pluto was in the mid 1960s. By then the idea of Pluto’s transformative power had entered our mainstream consciousness, having been discovered in 1930. This foreshadowed the next stage of social and cultural change – but that’s another article.

Copyright Francis Barker 2020

Milly Reynolds – Crime Fiction Author

An interview done ‘across the pond’ from a while ago.

Toy London British Buses – ‘Made in England’

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Another toy find in the loft. These are relatively modern examples of old London buses.

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This is another example of the triumph of older styles, the wonderful coachwork. And of course the colour red is so emphatic once again.

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There’s also the classic phrase ‘Made in England’, which we don’t see too often these days.

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copyright Francis Barker 2020

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