Why this Blog?

A place where I can lament the changing times; for eccentric comments on current affairs and for unfashionable views, expressed I hope, in cogent style; also occasional cris de coeur largely concerned, I regret to say, with myself.



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Wednesday, 16 April 2014

650: A Tract for the Times

It should be abundantly clear to any of you who have read my articles, that it is in my nature to deplore the present and so-called progress; I suppose that I am one of those people one hears or reads about that seek an England, or perhaps a world, that never existed.  To this suggestion – accusation – I say “guilty!”

My way of adapting to this shortcoming – if indeed it is (I am not convinced) – is to escape into the sort of literature that takes me into the past – at least, largely before 1950. 
 

Mark Twain famously described the Classics, i.e. in literature, as “something that everyone wants to have read and that nobody wants to read."  Having not had what I would call an education, this observation has a special relevance to this writer.  And in consequence, my reading is to say the least, indisciplined, my selections being somewhat haphazard.  Of two recent examples, one was a great disappointment, whilst the other – a success – has helped reinforce the opinion I expressed here in my first paragraph. 


The first one is quickly dealt with; for years I had intended to read Michael Arlen’s famous novel set in 1920s English high society: The Green Hat.  I do not know why I had not addressed this earlier, but there it is.  Well I received a few days ago, a copy of the book and immediately started on it; I managed to get halfway through and then, wearied by a lot of pseudo-psychological meanderings, I cast it aside: a washout.


Ah! But the other one!  This is a gem – a veritable treasure, happily discovered at the charity bookshop at which, for two pleasant afternoons a week, I work as a volunteer.  The book carries the title Our Village and was written by Miss Mary Russell Mitford.  It is a collection of articles published in the 1820s, which described life in Three Mile Cross, a Berkshire village three miles south of Reading.  The stories are delightful, taken as they are from the reality of the rural life of the period.  No-one could possibly deny that life was hard for most of the people, but I sincerely doubt that on the whole they were any less happy than their descendants today – and indeed I suspect that they may actually have been happier, or at least less discontented.  The clear message that I get from the stories is the “naturalness” of life as it was then lived – and Miss Mitford’s writings have led me to believe that this life really did exist! 

Now then, a message from today – a parallel perhaps? – reported by the BBC and incorporating the wonderful photographs of Asher Svidensky.


Look at the pictures below: a thirteen-year-old girl in Mongolia who hunts foxes with a golden eagle.  Does she go to a discotheque, drive a Ferrari? have a 96-inch TV set?  I doubt it.


  
And does she look unhappy?  Wonderful this girl, now a sort of heroine to me; she has everything to piss off the lefty namby-pambies in this country: she HUNTS foxes (shock) has a real fur hat (double shock) uses an eagle taken from its nest as a chick (outrage) - not to mention the 'elf 'n' safety aspects (treble shock horror).  Mr Chris Packham would be truly disgusted I am sure.



And does the eagle look unhappy?




Actually, no!



Now compare those images with this picture: English schoolchildren, all prepared to play conkers, with safety goggles. Dear God!  When I told someone about this, I had to work quite hard to convince him that this was actually true.


Where did we lose the plot, with our hygiene, health and safety and so on?  Have YOU had your "five-a-day" this week and not exceeded the recommended number of units of alcohol (whatever they might be)? I do hope you've kept to the speed limits, eschewed tobacco etc., etc. ad nauseam.

Please hand me the keys to the time machine.

Meanwhile today I visited the village of Three Mile Cross and had lunch in the pub next door to Miss Mitford's former home.  I'll write something about this trip very soon.

Until the next time.


5 comments:

missdarcyslibrary said...

This made me laugh! Actually, I think there are more people than you'd expect who would be ready to join you in that time machine of yours. I, for one, am terribly old-fashioned, and always attracted by such things as parasols, fans, gramophones, and archaic rituals like Afternoon Tea (served on the terrace in Great-Grandmama's silverware and Spode, if you please).

Paul said...

Thank you Miss Darcy for your comment; and I am glad you laughed - but really I was trying to make a serious point - mind you I suppose the whole scenario could be viewed as tragicomical!!

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cairomax said...

This made me laugh! Actually, I think there are more people than you'd expect who would be ready to join you in that time machine of yours. I, for one, am terribly old-fashioned, and always attracted by such things as parasols, fans, gramophones, and archaic rituals like Afternoon Tea (served on the terrace in Great-Grandmama's silverware and Spode, if you please).

اسلام خالد said...

This made me laugh! Actually, I think there are more people than you'd expect who would be ready to join you in that time machine of yours. I, for one, am terribly old-fashioned