A Challenge Accepted

Just recently a blogging pal of mine challenged me to tackle these three questions. I don’t usually respond to challenges but in this case I have made an exception.

1. Which philosopher do you most admire and if they were alive today in your country/town how would they focus or direct their main theory and to what end?

Thomas Paine Thetford Norfolk

I immediately thought that I might go for John Locke “The Father of Liberalism” because I think that “Two Treatises of Government” is where nearly fifty years ago I formed my own views on politics and society.

I then considered Voltaire, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” (not Voltaire himself of course even though it neatly sums up his contribution to the principle of Free Speech.

But I have decided to choose Thomas Paine. My interest in him was rekindled when I visited his birth town of Thetford in Norfolk.

Thomas Paine Hotel

Paine supported both the American Revolution (one of the Founding Fathers no less) and the French Revolution and his most important work was The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen which became the basis for a nation of free individuals protected equally by the law. In 1792 he was elected to the French National Convention. In all of the turmoil of the revolution he was arrested. He only narrowly escaped the guillotine during the reign of terror and was then (not being welcome in England) allowed to travel to the USA.

The Declaration is important, it is included in the beginning of the constitutions of both the Fourth French Republic (1946) and Fifth (1958) and is still current. Inspired by the philosophers of the French Enlightenment like Voltaire and Rousseau, the Declaration became a core statement of the values of the French Revolution and had a major impact on the development of freedom and democracy in Europe and Worldwide.

The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen is so significant that it is considered to be as important as Magna Carta, the English Bill of Rights, the United States Bill of Rights and inspired in large part the 1948 United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

If he was here now I’d like to think he would have a solution to the crisis of democracy in the UK which has been brought about by the whole BREXIT fiasco.

Thomas Paine Memorial

If he was here now I’d like to think he would have a solution to the crisis of democracy in the UK which has been brought about by the whole BREXIT fiasco.

2. If you could completely “remove” three things from this planet what would they be and why? By “things” I don’t mean poverty, disease, discrimination etc, I mean tangible items, goods, or artefacts that really bug you. 



In the UK you need a licence for a shotgun or to keep poison or even weed killer but not for a killer animal!

Apologies here to my canine loving friends but I really don’t like dogs, I suffer from Cynophobia – I am scared of them, and this isn’t completely irrational because they really don’t like me either – but they are not frightened of me!  As soon as people with dogs realise that I have an unnatural and unexplainable fear of them then they seem to take sadistic delight in subjecting me to the terror of their company.

I don’t like dogs because I see no redeeming features in them. They sweat, they are greasy, they smell, they have bad breath, they foul the pavements and they piss up my garden wall.  What is there possibly to like about them?

My dislike for them started as a boy when I was taken one day for a walk by my granddad and on a piece of waste land opposite my parent’s house in Leicester an Alsatian dog knocked me to the ground, pinned me down and stood on my chest.  The inconsiderate owner had let it off its leash and I was absolutely terrified.

I couldn’t sum it up better than in the words of Bill Bryson…

“It wouldn’t bother me in the least…if all the dogs in the world were placed in a sack and taken to some distant island… where they could romp around and sniff each other’s arses to their hearts’ content and never bother or terrorise me again.” 

I wasn’t always frightened of dogs…



I hate garlic, I mean I really, really hate garlic. I hate the taste, I hate the aroma, I hate the way that it dries your mouth out and I hate the way that it makes you smell for twenty-four hours after eating it. I know that it is useful for warding off vampires but that is all I really have to say about garlic.  I am not even going to post a picture.


truckers rubbish

I wish plastic had never been invented.

I have recently become more upset than ever before about litter alongside roads and paths. While littering of the oceans is now at the forefront of public concern, general littering of the countryside and communities is barely on the national radar. Yet the amount of eyesore litter, not just plastic, is increasing exponentially on roadsides, in rivers, in public spaces and in the countryside and has a hugely negative impact on our lives.

Litter ruins people’s enjoyment of the countryside and makes open spaces feel like waste grounds. In Lincolnshire, where I live, many road verges are strewn with plastic sheets and bags hanging from trees, discarded meal containers and sacks of general rubbish.  Rubbish collection, or lack of it, compounds the problem. Bins for public use are relatively scarce, and litter collection is less frequent as councils simultaneously promote recycling and cut budgets.

This is me  at work in 1990 trying to tackle the litter problem with local school children…


3. Magic wish …. you can visit and see anything or any place on earth for a week, what is it, where, why?

Easy, my garden with some bottles of fine wine and a plate of my favourite nibbles!

So that is my challenge completed.  It is my job now to pass it on.  I have decided not to nominate anyone specifically but to invite anyone that has a care to, to think about and answer my three questions…

1 Most disappointing place ever visited

2 Which King or Queen of England would you invite to dinner and why and what is on the menu

3 Should the World build walls to restrict free movement of people

If you don’t like my questions then you could always use Brian’s…


Check out his amusing and informative blog pages right here…


38 responses to “A Challenge Accepted

  1. I am surprised to say that I agree with more or less every one of your choices…Thomas Paine, dogs, garlic, not quite so much on plastic but I see what you mean.
    I used to like Voltaire a lot but a few years ago I found out he was wildly anti-Semitic which does seem to be a rather hypocritical stance. Did you know his name is an anagram, more or less? His real name was AROUET which can be written Latin style as AROVET. He was the younger brother which is “le jeune” which, again is “le ieune” in Latin style and gives you the “L” and the “I”.
    Our A-level French classes used to go a little off the subject occasionally, although they are the bits I remember, of course.


  2. Ooh the garlic and dogs must be an awful challenge on your travels, especially in Spain & Portugal. I’ll be thinking of you every time now I see free roaming dogs.


    • Worst places for dogs that I have come across was Athens and Turkey. I don’t recall problems in Spain and Portugal so much.

      Anyway, I am going to need some travel tips. This year we will take our holiday in the Algarve and beyond. Outline plan is to travel west from Faro and then drive north towards Beja and Evora and then across into Spain and Extremadura.

      This is your challenge!


      • Ah not been to those two places, don’t think I will now!!!

        How fabulous a trip, I like this challenge. I’ll need to talk to Jo though and also Georgina who travels regularly between her home in Andalusia and the western Algarve!! Exciting 😊


      • You set hard challenges! Be nice to find a proper politician though, who could make some impact on Brexit. And what a cute kid, on your pushalong dog. 🙂 🙂
        Stayed in a lovely old palazzo in the centre of Evora. (Solar de Monfalim- characterful rather than chique) Good if you like the sound of church bells. 🙂 🙂 Need a repeat visit to Beja. We were there on a Monday and the Convento was closed. 😦
        Burgau is one of my favourite bits along towards the west but I’ve never stayed there. Presume you’ll spend time in Sagres and the west coast is lovely, as I’m sure you know. Odeceixe is good for hippy/surfer types and Vila Nova de Milfontes another interesting town.


      • Not sure where we will go yet Jo, just waiting for some tips! We will get across into Extremadura for a couple of days!


      • You have to do Elvas while heading for the border. 🙂 🙂 I hope to get up to Marvao this year but I’m so disorganised so far! Someone else is pulling my strings 🙂 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Andrew – love the concept of the challenge. I totally agree with you regarding plastic and I would add the people who litter to your plan, at least to send them all to their own remote island with huge walls around so they cannot litter the ocean. We also certainly need a Thomas Paine to sort out Brexit as our inept politicians are incapable of doing.

    I am really sorry about your dog experience, but this is where our opinions differ. I would certainly stick irresponsible dog owners on the island with the litterers (perhaps they are one and the same) and I would also have a place for dog snobs, the type that think unless your dog is the size of a pony that both you and your dog are inferior.

    We have a poodle and she is our best friend in the entire world. If it were a choice between her and not travelling, I wouldn’t travel, without her anyway. She is a most loving, brave, clever, affectionate, funny, enthusiastic and sociable creature. Everybody who meets her is smitten, even those that do not particularly like dogs.

    My travel buddy Hamish had an innate fear of dogs like you due to a similar negative childhood experience. He now loves dogs and that is almost totally down to our Oli (he still has an irrational fear of cows though, and don’t get me started on wasps – actually I would banish wasps & hornets from the earth!).

    In no way am I saying my opinion is right and yours is wrong, I just wanted to give an opposing view.

    Now, shall we get down to sorting BREXIT?




    • Thanks Will.

      Actually, I confess that Kim’s daughter has a dog that I rather like (don’t tell anyone) but it is only a Yorkshire Terrier and small so doesn’t frighten me at all.

      Apart from Maggie I do suffer from a chronic fear of dogs however and dog owners do struggle to understand the condition of cynophobia, Generally I cannot bear them anywhere near me and will even cross a road to avoid them.

      It takes all sorts I suppose!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I have been known to knock over a whole picnic table stacked with food and drink to avoid two wasps buzzing around my head so I totally get people’s fears. My wife runs away from geckos – I think she must have watched journey to the centre of the earth when dinosaurs were depicted by magnified lizards!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Well we are different after all! Only Paine the rest do not agree!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Not a lot to disagree with there.

    When you’re in bed and Mummy’s been eating garlic
    There’s a place to go, downstairs
    Onions and curry, chilli, tikka masala
    Seems to help I know, downstairs
    You can open all the windows and the air is clear and nice
    Fill your lungs with freshness, it’s free of herbs and spice
    How can you lose?
    The night is much cleaner there
    You can forget all your troubles, forget all your cares
    And go downstairs
    Have a weak cup of tea, downstairs
    Mild crackers or toast for me, downstairs
    Everything’s waiting for you.


  6. Thanks for taking up my challenge Andrew and the plug for my site. Nice choice of three philosophers and I would have picked Paine from those three as well, but each of them seem to fit current era and circumstances. I despair at current philosophers such as ACGrayling who seems to be a left wing elitist snob to me! In our family Sharon hates garlic, Champa is scared of dogs and I hate plastic. Champa has been bitten twice by street dogs in Kathmandu and had to go through very nasty rabies treatments. Dog owners in this country are clueless! Champa grew up with snakes and lizards and I’d love to tell screaming dog owners “he won’t hurt you” as we put our pet snake on the table in the pub! Surprised on your choice of place to visit, maybe like us you’re boycotting Europe?


  7. I wish that guns and bombs had never been invented. Another thing to do away with would be mirrors. That might save a lot of time in the morning and also if we didn’t know what we looked like, we wouldn’t be so judgemental of the appearance of others. 🙂


  8. Interesting answers! Agree on Paine and plastic. Dogs – well, they are only as good as their owners, as others have pointed out. And like Becky, I also wonder how you avoid garlic on your travels. We have a friend who doesn’t like garlic and it’s hard enough here.


  9. You’re a handsome devil, tackling the waste problem! 😀 I totally agree with your two responses. Can’t talk you out of your fears, but I would suggest the owners of ill behaved dogs ought to be flogged as well.


  10. I’m very disappointed in you Andrew, and I don’t like excuses.

    No such thing as fear, its just a state of mind

    1) Italy
    2) Richard III and for dinner Boiled Andrew Petcher in Garlic
    3)No Use Border Collies to round them up and shove them into pens!

    Getting rid of dogs,?
    Never heard anything so disgusting!
    My Coco is now in tears after I told him what you wrote.You’re in my doghouse PERMANENTLY!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I tell you, I am scared to death of dogs, just like some people are afraid of heights or spiders. I will never be cured. WOOF WOOF!

      Liked by 1 person

      • No such thing as fear. Cowardice YES fear no! I don’t kill spiders even the deadly ones, in fact I rather like spiders and lizards and creepy crawlie things,
        Why don’t you pop over for a visit. we’ll go bush together, and we’ll take a couple of dogs for protection!


  11. Thank you Andrew, for owning up to your true feelings about dogs. I cannot stand dogs, but I rarely confess it publicly. I, too have been attacked by dogs, have the scars to show for it. But I am pretty sure I’ve conquered my fears, I can convincingly pretend dog love to any monster leaping toward me, slobbering, tail wagging, and the owners never guess. I pretend because I am not in the mood to listen to their flabbergasted people: “You don’t like dogs? What is WRONG with you?” I don’t like dogs because they bark (and bark and bark and bark), they stink, they jump on you, they dig, they slobber, they chew, they poop in my yard, their favourite game is for me to throw the drool-coated stick or ball – blech. Of course, yes, there is a dog here and there whose owner has brought it under control. But why should we allow all of them because 2% of them are tolerable? No reason! Banish them!!

    {thank you. I am done.}


  12. Excellent choice with Paine, the US could use a reminder from one of the founding fathers of how they imagined the country. Plastic is on my list too, posting soon!


  13. Lately, I have been researching the life of Voltaire in “Lettres D’Alsace” (1743-45) as this is my homeland. It is fascinating to see 18 th century history through his eyes and experiences: his frustration that his works are being stolen and copied; his strong dislike of Strasbourg ( my hometown); and his deep passion for his “niece” Madame Denis. I appreciate your friend’s challenge!


  14. The Painted Desert (the petrified forest is nearby and it’s just as disappointing).

    Edward VIII.


    Liked by 1 person

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