Day 611: Swell in Orwell

The route from Mount Tabor to Orwell, Vermont, the Mind’s Eye group’s next destination, passed near Bomoseen State Park, a recreation area surrounding the largest lake that is entirely within the borders of Vermont. After canoeing on Bomoseen Lake, the group headed on to Mount Independence State Historic Site. Located on the shores of Lake Ticonderoga, it was a major stronghold of the rebelling colonists during the Revolutionary War.

Mention “Orwell,” and most people think of George Orwell, the pen name of British author Eric Blair, who is best known for his books Animal Farm and 1984. He was a staunch opponent of totalitarian governments—either right or left—and the propaganda techniques that keep them in power, including the corruption of language. He coined the words “doublethink” and “newspeak.” The former is defined as, “the act of simultaneously accepting two mutually contradictory beliefs as correct,” and the latter means, “deliberately ambiguous and contradictory language used to mislead and manipulate the public.”

But historians believe that when the town was chartered in 1763 it was named after one Francis Vernon, a minor Irish politician whose title was Baron Orwell. Despite the town’s having no known connection to George Orwell, there is ample evidence that most of the residents of the Village of Orwell think for themselves. After a nineteenth century threshing accident that killed several of the town’s young men, the town passed a law banning the use of “modern farm machinery of all kinds.” It remains in force today. The village has also staunchly defended itself against fast-food franchises. However, at happy hour, Laetitia heard about at least one town resident who found independent thinking challenging. Before going off to join her group for dinner, she turned the story into the limerick of the day.

There was a young man from Orwell
Who with “Victory Gin” plied his Nell
And lied to his niece
When he said, “war is peace”
For he thought that newspeak is quite swell.

Day 322: Filching

Not far from Lewes is a hamlet also in East Sussex called Filching. It is a small community with a tea garden, chalk quarry, a few homes, and a large fifteenth-century country house called Filching Manor. Filching has the distinction of being listed in Rude UK, indicating that the name has one or more rude meanings.

Laetitia and her group visited the Filching Manor Motor Museum, which houses the Bluebird boat that Sir Malcolm Campbell drove to take the world water speed record. A K3 Rolls Royce engine powers the Bluebird speedboat. The museum also has a Bluebird electric vehicle on display. They went from the museum to the Red Lion Inn in nearby Willingdon, which is the setting for George Orwell’s Animal Farm. They had dinner there, and Laetitia presented the two-verse limerick of the day.

‘Tis said in the dark Middle Ages
That filching was fair but not wages
For soldiers on duty
Who got paid in booty
And could commit other outrages.

But today Filching is a quaint village
Where errant knights no longer pillage
So do folks there still filch
Or is filching there zilch
With the village in a pillage-nil age?