Worcestershire: Underneath the Archers

‘Broadcast on BBC Radio 4 to over five million listeners, Worcestershire is an everyday story of country folk, dealing with the trials and tribulations of life, love and dairy farming.’

A quiet, unobtrusive place, the county’s charm lies in its unrushed pace and concentration on the smaller things in life, such as the possible closure of the village post office, the loss and rediscovery of a pair of spectacles, or competitions to produce the largest marrow. This is not to say that Worcestershire has not been visited by excitement or tragedy over the years, and over the course of its fifty-five year run the county’s residents have seen fires, rape and bluetongue all intrude upon their thickly accented lives.

Sometimes mocked as a comfortably middle-class region with stereotypical yokels sprinkled in for lazy comic effect, Worcestershire has nonetheless had to tackle many serious social issues over the years. Direct action against genetically modified crops, civil partnerships, and inter-racial relationships between white and Caucasian partners have all been come to grips with, as has many resident’s addiction to Sunday night repeats of Moneybox.

Worcestershire has often been used as the conduit for announcements from the Government on rural issues, with resident’s conversations changing within a matter of days to address agricultural emergencies such as outbreaks of foot and mouth disease, livestock movement restrictions, and the legality of shooting intruders in the back rather than the front.

Facts

  • ANTHEM – Da da-da da-da da-da, da da-da da daaaa-da, etc
  • FAVOURITE CONVERSATION TOPICS – European farming subsidies, Buying habits of large supermarkets, Difficulties of marketing organic meat
  • LIFE EXPECTANCY – May never die
  • GDP – 0.003% of the licence fee
  • CRIME – Mostly the Grundys
  • TRANSPORT – Omnibus available every Sunday
  • SPEED LIMIT – Recently increased to one event per month
  • SEX – Only in late-night ‘uncut’ episodes

History

1000 BC – Bronze Age peoples give up their itinerant lifestyles and establishment settlements in the area, distraught at knowing their civilisation will ultimately never achieve anything better than third.

1041 – Worcester is almost destroyed after a rebellion against the punitive taxation of Harthacanute is forcefully put down by soldiers carrying brand new axes and spears bought with the King’s unusually large tax receipts.

1651 – The Battle of Worcester effectively brings the English Civil War to an end after its conclusion means that only twelve men of fighting age are left in the country.

1810 – Worcester hits its peak as a major centre for glove making, employing over 30,000 people during one winter season – nearly half the glovers in England. By next winter almost none of them can be found.

1853 – Seeking to promote its most important home-grown industry, Kidderminster embarks on an unsuccessful attempt to become the first fully-carpeted town in England.

1940 – Worcester is chosen as the seat of an evacuated government in the event of mass German invasion, with Government strategists pointing out the number of cafes where Cabinet and senior military figures could obtain a relaxing cup of tea.

Did You Know?

It is claimed that the county was the inspiration for The Shire, a region of Tolkein’s fictional Middle-earth described in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Tolkien was thought to have named Bilbo Baggins’ house ‘Bag End’ after the Worcestershire farm of his old bag Aunt Jane.

Established in 1690, the Berrow’s Journal is the world’s oldest continually published newspaper and still brings its readers the very latest on Papist plots, the bear-baiting results, and who’s wearing the most fashionable firkins this summer.

The original Worcestershire sauce is still made in Worcester. Known for its piquancy and strength, it remains one of Britain’s most unpleasant pints.

Composer Sir Edward Elgar’s father once ran a music shop at the end of Worcester High Street, with his son born a short distance away in the village of Broadheath. One of England’s most popular composers, football fan Elgar produced a series of timeless pieces that have since seeped deeply in to the English consciousness, including ‘Getting Sacked in the Morning’, ‘You’re Shit and You Know You Are’, and the Match of the Day theme tune.

Dudley is the largest settlement in the UK without its own university or league football club. When questioned about these two significant gaps, the town claims they just haven’t got round to it yet, and will definitely sort out both right after they finish building their thirty-fourth pub.

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