Saturday, 27 February 2010

A personification of the worst we have to offer...

A cocky philistine holds forth, claiming to speak for all upstanding Englishmen:

A non-country? Only through the eyes of the stereotypical English tourist, so memorably captured by William Donaldson in his Henry Root travelogues.

Quite how Farage would define his perceived British supremacy is a moot point. Presumably the usual sordid mix of imperialism, Thatcherism and generic xenophobia. The Left cannot think of aligning themselves at all with this man or his party; a desire to reform EU institutions should be backed up by a cultural Europeanism. Pride and humility, reclaiming our shared culture - thinking - and, by definition, critical - Europeanism is the only way.


  1. 'a desire to reform EU institutions should be backed up by a cultural Europeanism'

    Hear, hear!

    Incidentally, if you like detective novels, Georges Simenon's Maigret series are really excellent. So sparely understated and yet meaningful. Admittedly, they aren't the best in terms of plot twists and reasoning, but still very atmospheric.

    It is indeed ironic that our 'conservatives' are proud about being culturally ignorant.

  2. I should indeed read some Maigret... are there any short stories? They might be a way in; I could have another week of short-stories based purely on crime and detective fiction; I have quite a few others ready to read in that genre.

    Have started reading Peter Ackroyd's "Albion", today, which promises to be interesting on the English imagination. Already much on the significance of forests and trees. Both the Tories and UKIP seem to lack a positive story to tell about their Englishness. They use History only as harmless 'heritage'; tourism rather than engagement in what buildings or landscape actually means. I was listening to a mid-90s recording of Michael Portillo extolling in stentorian tones the 'History of battles, of conquest!' (part of his infamous "S.A.S.!" speech) and simply could not imagine any frontline politician speaking in such a way today. That is definitely not to condone MP's partial, militaristic view of British identity and history, but the pendulum has swung so much that nobody (save Billy Bragg and the BNP) puts forward any view. So many are now tourists in their own land.

  3. @Tom
    I don't think that Simenon wrote any Maigret stories, but his novels tend to be very short and simply written. Maigret and the Yellow Dog is a good one (though I've noticed his books are common in charity shops).

    British national identity is an odd one. As you might have guessed I'm quite a fan of detective stories and really like Agatha Christie's Poirot stories (not consciously continuing the Belgian theme, but he was her most interesting creation). I think it's interesting that whilst Christie was quite xenophobic she used a Belgian protagonist that she hated; I think in a sense this was to skirt the less-pleasant aspects of British identity whilst also offering interesting portraits of the British topography and society. I also think John Suchet is brilliant in the adaptations, even though many of the supporting actors aren't so good.

    I was just commenting both on my blog and to Robin Carmody the 'irony' of David Cameron appealing to patriotism and saying 'voters might wake up Friday...' using American idiom. It reminded me of Notes to the Tarot by Ouspenksy when he describes the fool carrying tools that he doesn't even know how to use.