Only one idiot

I strongly object to it.

It must have appeared in the last week or so. I tried to recall the last time I had driven on the road from Othery to Aller. Maybe it was the Thursday after Easter, driving back from Weston-Super-Mare, I wanted to go to Langport before returning home. Had it been there then, I think I would have noticed it.

Beneath the letters on the sign that announces the village’s name to those coming from the west, large black letters on a white background, someone has stuck a strip of paper saying, “with it’s share of idiots.”

I was annoyed to the point of nearly stopping so that I could walk back and remove it.

Aller was a place to be reckoned with in Saxon times. In the centuries that came to be known as the Dark Ages, places like Aller seem to have retained a modicum of civilisation.¬† It is said that it was on 11th May 878 that Alfred’s Saxon forces were victorious against the Danes who then occupied much of England. Alfred had taken refuge in the marshes that had surrounded the island of Athelney, a few miles distant from Aller, before rallying the Saxons and defeating the Danish army at the battle of Ethandun. The victory of the Christian Saxons over their Danish opponents¬† led to the baptism of the Danish King Guthrun at Aller and to the talks that resulted in the Peace of Wedmore.

Tucked beneath the hill on which High Ham is situated, Aller is part of the same parish benefice, although both were independent parishes until modern times. In elections for the district council, High Ham and Aller form the Turn Hill ward.

Aller was the home of my grandmother’s family, the Luxtons. Sometimes walking in Aller churchyard, I will stop at the grave of my great-grandparents and try to imagine what life in the village was like in the Nineteenth Century, when they lived there.

Aller is a place to which I feel ties of place and ties of family, but that wasn’t what was really annoying about the sticker on the sign. “With it’s share of idiots,” the ignoramus had written, does he not know the difference between “its” and “it’s?” Does he not know how to use the words correctly?

My grandmother, born and raised in Aller, and educated at the convent in Langport, would have explained to him the proper use of an apostrophe.


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