I often 'use' something I have read on twitter or facebook, or something heard in the early morning news as a kickstart to a blog but today the 'inspiration' for my blog is a small carving which I photographed [badly] in Glastonbury yesterday.
It is a late 15thC carving of a betrothed couple which is on a medieval building thought to be near the spot where public betrothals took place. Although Other Half and I have spent very many hours in Glastonbury and were confident we knew a lot about the area and its history, pride comes before a fall and all that and we had never seen this lovely little carving. But yesterday morning when we were in St John's Church in the town and chatting to a couple of officials about engagements and weddings and then onto betrothals and the meaning of betrothals in earlier times, the subject of this carving came up and we were sent along to look at it!
In medieval times a betrothal was as binding as a marriage. Indeed any sort of promise was considered as binding. In a time when many could not read or write a spoken word had to be considered binding.
When did this change? Well the engagement/betrothal bit probably in the 19th/20th centuries although 'Breach of Promise' legal cases were still being heard in the law courts in the 1930s. And I was brought up to believe in the 1950s by my mother that if I broke a promise I would go to hell, but I think that even then that was a tad old-fashioned and certainly rather harsh!
But what about in the 21st century? Maybe not promises but that over used politicians word 'pledges'. There is an example of the 'broken Tory pre-election pledges' doing the rounds on twitter and facebook at the moment:
A Tory Pledge = What-we-say-when-we-want-to-get-into-power-but-please-don't-believe-it statement. [Elizannie]
Election Manifesto promises/pledges are of course regularly broken by incoming governments - they can always employ the caveat that 'the last government' left too many problems for us to be able to carry out that particular reform/benefit/improvement/funding [delete as necessary]' But other declarations made at the beginning of one parliamentary term are often reneged upon by the end of that term. Especially, I would suggest, by this coalition government. And the London Mayor - Boris Johnson - regularly makes pledges about things over which he has no power but which sound really good as a sound bite. But when pinned down - as he was on LBC radio's Nick Ferrari show this morning - and asked something about which he should know as it is within his responsibility - in this case tube fares - he often shows an ignorance which, imo, displays an arrogance. [He also flunked some IQ questions on the show which on the back of his controversial speech last week has caused many humourous comments on twitter]
So the point of this blog? Well perhaps:
- Politicians should try not to promise that which they are not absolutely confident they can fulfill
- We should treat all promises, especially those from politicians and employers with great caution
- Never think you know all about a well loved place!
- As a society we should be prepared to learn from the past that a promise, pledge etc is inviolable and not to be given lightly