Cleaning up Warwickshire

PUBLISHED: 15:53 16 June 2009 | UPDATED: 08:56 21 February 2013

Bill Bryson

Bill Bryson

The Campaign for the Protection of Rural England wants the countryside cleared up and it wants you to help. You're in good company. Author and CPRE president, Bill Bryson, is leading the way reports Nicholas Butler.

The Campaign for the Protection of Rural England wants the countryside cleared up and it wants you to help. You're in good company. Author and CPRE president, Bill Bryson, is leading the way reports Nicholas Butler.



Have you heard of Bill Bryson from Iowa? He visited England as a youngster, found a job in a hospital, married one of the nurses and stayed here.


You may have read one of his books, most likely Notes on a Small Island, the story of a backpacking trip that took him all over the British Isles. Our social behaviour fascinated and amused him no end, but he was rightly scornful of our shortcomings. The service in pubs and hotels was frequently appalling. He was unable to travel by bus from one end of the country to the other. Our architecture and scenery were splendid, but horribly spoiled by ugly development and neglect.


"It sometimes occurs to me," he wrote, "that the British have more heritage than is good for them."


We should pay a good deal of attention to that remark. We have the most beautiful architectural heritage in the world, but how many excellent buildings have we torn down, how many fine streets ruined by unsuitable replacements? Our countryside is second to none, but how much of it is marred by pylons, unnecessary signage and street furniture?


As he loves us and laughs at us, Bill Bryson also chides us and is most concerned that we should change our ways, which is surely reason enough for making this anglophile celebrity President of the CPRE.


As his reign began he was engaged on his latest book, Shakespeare. Is there anything left to say about this immortal but elusive son of Warwickshire? Indeed, there is. Mr Bryson has produced a commonsensical compendium of what we know, what we do not know and what we cannot know. It is a witty, friendly little volume, but quietly, formidably erudite. Anyone reading for a degree in English should acquire it.


The book came out last Autumn and since then our president has been giving us a good deal of time and attention, and to one subject in particular. He thinks we are extremely untidy and he wants us to pull our socks up.


He has been liaising with other groups that want to clean up the country, such as Keep Britain Tidy, which is having a special drive this month called The Big Tidy Up. He has gained the ear of the Minister in charge of Waste and Recycling, Joan Ruddock, who has promised to write a report on a refundable bottle scheme.


Needless to say the Warwickshire Branch of the CPRE wants to join in the fun. Do you know of any places in the county where there is fly-tipping? Let us know and we will get out there, take photographs and alert the powers that be.


Nicholas Butler is head of the CPRE in Warwickshire. For more information about the CPRE, telephone 01926 494597 or visit www.cprewarwickshire.org.uk


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