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Milton Keynes Village: Elm tree legend
The Swan, Milton Keynes. After the ravage of Dutch Elm disease the remnant of the elm tree is seen on the right.

In a previous age, when it was discovered that a girl of Broughton was ‘carrying on’ with a married man from Milton Keynes, the retribution of the villagers was swift, for she was drummed out of the village to the sound of banging on dustbin lids. No doubt if the same criteria were applied to present standards, it would be bonanza time for every hardware shop for miles. In fact it seems that bankrolled by the welfare state, the promiscuity spawned during the ‘Swinging Sixties’ began the meltdown of the nation’s morals, and, as I seem to remember from the 1970s, savvy females made a career choice of having a few sprogs out of wedlock, to thereby obviate having to find some mind numbing job, and instead be guaranteed state provided accommodation, and all the benefits that went with it. (As for feckless males, they couldn’t believe their luck, for now there seemed to be a local network of easy lodgings offering easy liaisons, which not infrequently left the legacy of yet another mouth to feed - on benefits, of course.) But on the question of babies, illegitimate or otherwise, at the village of Milton Keynes there once stood a great elm tree next to the Swan, and by tradition it was said that should ever this tree wither and die, then no more babies would be born in the village. Then in 1974 the tree became a victim of Dutch Elm disease, and for reasons of safety the woody landmark had to be reduced to little more than a stump. Yet even this became a victim of fate, for as an immoveable object it was demolished in 1989 during a high speed police chase. However, in 1990 Milton Keynes Development Corporation presented the villagers with a new elm, and in June of that year this was planted by a 75 year old resident. Thus in a way the old legend came true, for with the end of the great elm came the end of babies being born in the village, for Milton Keynes was now no longer a village but a part of the new city - with all the social modernity which that entailed. In fact regarding the now accepted phenomena of ‘partners’ and ‘single mums,’ goodness knows what the Victorian rector of Broughton would have thought, for, whilst about his early morning walks before breakfast, his wrath was even incurred by the shabby holes in the pinafores of any girls that he encountered, who, with the shortcomings of their attire having been pointed out by the Reverend with his walking stick, were swiftly despatched back to their mothers with the words ‘a stitch in time saves nine’ ringing in their ears! Trying that today would probably result in a foul mouthed tirade and a charge of child abuse. Oh dear, it does seem that one can only sigh and despair at the breakdown of moral standards. But never mind, now where I did put that list of guests for next Saturday’s Swingers Party.