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The Dowager Duchess and the last day of the 2010 Buxton Festival

Another Buxton Festival has come to an end. It was unfortunate for us that our Cornish/Devon trip took a whole week out of the programme but we ended well.

Yesterday, Roy Hattersley, who had done so much as chairman earlier on to develop the festival by attracting excellent speakers and events spoke movingly and very entertainingly  about his view of England (as against Britain), and being English. He is not blindly patriotic or claiming being English confers any sense of superiority; rather he is  just quietly proud to be English, admiring Shakespeare’s  ‘modest stillness’, the emotional reticence which he feels is the defining English characteristic.

The fitting grande finale of the festival for many was the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire in conversation with David Blunkett this morning. A possibly unlikely duo but they are actually good friends with amongst other shared experiences so we were told,  that of both having been brought up in estates – he in a council estate in Sheffield and ‘Debo’  – the last of the Mitford sisters – in an estate even if a rather different one – in Oxfordshire!

At 90 the Dowager Duchess is still full of life, quick-witted, warm and amusing but always self-deprecating, never flamboyant or boastful – perhaps a perfect example of  the natural reserve that Roy Hattersley had described yesterday.

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