Some remarks from a chapter called ‘The Beginnings’ by Jacquetta Hawkes.
“At this time Britain was a promontory of north-western Europe. About 10,000 years ago, however, the ice-sheets and glaciers began to melt back towards their present positions, and the release of enormous quantities of water raised the sea level. By about 6000 B.C. the North Sea had been formed, and the landbridge with France severed. Britain had become an island.” (14)
Now this could be seen as the inaugural Brexit, when Nature itself decided to intervene and create the Channel Sea. And thus, six thousand years before Christ, some proto-Farage clansman waved goodbye to the meddling bureaucrats on the Continent and returned to spearing a rabbit for supper. This! This green and pleasant land was born.
So, here is in and here are the old boasts and the old gripes. This is the Preface to the “Shell Guide To England (1973)” by none other than J. B. Priestley. And what do we find? None other than the same old kant and moaning. He claims an unnamed German traveller (who he has since, determinedly, out-travelled) said to him when he asked what the most beautiful country in the world was : “England”. But of course, he says “only, of course, what we have left of it.”
He continues: “And between the England that German had seen and admired and the England we see now there stands, like a mountain of trash, the dreadful legacy of the ‘thirties, surely the most determinedly tasteless of all our decades.” (9, Shell Guide To England 73)
So he has used his pulpit to bash, to moan, to brag – to belittle – to Romanticise and be a Classicist. What could be more English? No wonder they kicked off this weighty tome with this diatribe. Or did they, like now we might, sit and snigger at the moany old Brexit man who delivered his scant essay five weeks late and then probably had a side-swipe at the publishers?
“We may not have done our best to ruin our enchanting country, but have undoubtedly had a devil of a good try.” (10)
“In large countries you can go two hundred miles along one valley, three hundred miles across one monotonous plain. These are countries for which the jets were invented. Fly – and get done with them. Even the English should not fly over England.” (10)
Well, there you have it! Not that I intend to fly. He is quite right, that this small (very small) island vanishes at the hands of a jet plane. You need a shit car, a horrible snarled up M road, a terrible service station and many sad-eyed people to feel the true magic of England. Let me enter my Mk1 Megane Cabrio. Let me feel it.
I recently left my post at a leading academic publisher, after 10 years of running the list. As I recharge and ponder my next move, I have taken the time to set up a publisher of my own. This is E6 Books. The web address is e6books.co.uk and submissions can be sent to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
In my downtime I will be going on road trips and a vague tour of this nation of ours (I say ours – it’s not mine, as Theresa May et al have reminded me). I am “British-born” rather than British, at least, I am if I ever do anything wrong and get the papers writing about me. I am still proud of my town, my City and my people and I cling to my friends as brothers and sisters. These are the England I hold dear. They are what I have discovered in the rolling hills and steam and soot of London. How much pain will these politicians inflict on the BAME communities for purely personal gain? Have they no shame and sense of greater purpose.
My bible shall be this 1973 Shell Guide to England, which has a Preface ‘On England’ by J. B. Priestley.
Here is my wife, Laura, with the Good Book, in Marcham, where we stopped for a drink and met some of the locals.
Here for your perusal, are the Contents. Let these be the stages of my redemption.
So many mattresses on the street. In the middle of the street, on the corners. Dumped, folded, crooked up and sat awkward. Each one a soul, maybe two, and then all change. Why do people obsess about changing the mattress? They’ll use the same sofa, same kitchen, same furniture. But change the mattress! So they go out on the street, the sign of rentiers extracting their blood like the leeches they are. Fuck you, mattress dumpers!
Hello. A brace of reviews, hold tight.
First up is Toad-Ally Snax Kanga Roos, which are chocolate coated pretzel nuggets that feature an interior butter pouch. Hopefully you can see the connection between the naming of the snack and the design: kangaroos, in the wild, have ‘pouches’. These particular ‘kanga roo snax’ have been tamed and filled with peanut butter goodness. Thus nature is subverted to the will of Man.
They are actually quite nice : inoffensive chocolate and crispy salt pretzel that is then overpowered by the sweet/salt umami of peanut butter. One or two is enough and then you feel a bit sick.
Also sampled was Kefir, now bottled and flavoured with (in this instance) ‘honey and mint’. Kefir is fermented milk, and it comes from the family that gives us lassi and so on. It’s an acquired taste, and this flavoured style is a bit like mango lassi – it’s lassi for people who would rather be drinking chocolate milk or some sort. So, its fine, but really, you might as well just have a honey mint yazoo as the pro-active bacteria in something this size isn’t really going to be hugely helpful, and no doubt food safety regulations mean anything halfway helpful has been neutered.
I enjoyed it, but that enjoyment was tempered with many conflicting feelings, much like you might summarize my entire life so far. I fear this is the path I am on until death, and after death, it will be too late to change.
I think it is one of the things that I’ll never really get used to, is the sheer chutzpah of boomer hypocrisy. There is this sense of ‘do as I say, not as I do/did’ that rankles at every turn. Every ‘cost-cutting’ measure or statute of limitations or benefit denied. And yes of course, these were enjoyed in lavish quantities by the generation setting down the laws. They do it from their lofty positions of seniority and power : this is for everyone’s benefit, they say! Make do with less. Do more, with less (the myth of productivity).
Basically, boomers, go fuck yourselves.
I wrote a short poem about my
out of date Galaxy Cookie Crumble from WHSMITH in Coventry Station. I bought it for one pound, same as it costs IN DATE at Tescos and other leading supermarkets
Here are some pictures:
O Galaxy Cookie Crumble
How I love to eat you when my
On the slowpoke
London Midland train
from Coventry To London Euston.
Through darkening skies
And we cling to each other
Your pink foil and cookie pieces
out of date slightly stale structure
Coat my hunger
There is a rupture
For a few seconds — then I realise
I am alone and soon I will be dead