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Some things never change…. 8 January 2007

Posted by TwentyTwoYards in Land of Hope and Glory..., Quotes of the day/week/month.

Aah… England.

And a double aah…Orwell.

So we get Orwell on England….

England Your England:

“When you come back to England from any foreign country, you have immediately the sensation of breathing a different air. Even in the first few minutes dozens of small things conspire to give you this feeling. The beer is bitterer, the coins are heavier, the grass is greener, the advertisements are more blatant. The crowds in the big towns, with their mild knobby faces, their bad teeth and gentle manners, are different from a European crowd. Then the vastness of England swallows you up, and you lose for a while your feeling that the whole nation has a single identifiable character. Are there really such things as nations? Are we not forty-six million individuals, all different? And the diversity of it, the chaos! The clatter of clogs in the Lancashire mill towns, the to-and-fro of the lorries on the Great North Road, the queues outside the Labour Exchanges, the rattle of pin-tables in the Soho pubs, the old maids hiking to Holy Communion through the mists of the autumn morning – all these are not only fragments, but characteristic fragments, of the English scene. How can one make a pattern out of this muddle?”

The Road to Wigan Pier:

“There is no doubt about the Englishman’s inbred conviction that those who live to the south of him are his inferiors; even our foreign policy is governed by it to some extent. . . “

And for extra credit, here’s something about a place that really has not changed. London in the words of a newly arrived immigrant from Eastern Europe:

On binge-drinking:

“On Saturday nights, a half-million workers, male and female, together with their children, flood the city like a sea, flocking especially in certain sections and celebrate the Sabbath all night until five in the morning … They stuff themselves and drink like animals … They all race against time to drink themselves insensate. The wives do not lag behind their husbands but get drunk with them; the children run and crawl among them…”

On London’s cosmopolitan nature:

“You look at these hundreds of thousands, these millions of people humbly streaming here from all over the face of the earth…It is like a biblical picture, something out of Babylon, a prophecy from the Apocalypse coming to pass before your eyes.”

On religion and veiled women:

“One night, in the crowd of lost women and profligates, I was stopped by a woman making her way hurriedly through the crowd. She was dressed all in black, and her hat hid her face almost completely.”

The woman pressed a piece of paper into his hand which said, in French, “I am the resurrection and the life“.

“I learned later that it was Catholic propaganda, as usual poking its nose everywhere … There is an abundance of these propagandists, men and women. It is subtle, calculating propaganda.”

But no, the above was not written last week by a Polish plumber or a Bulgarian engineer or even a Latvian nurse. It was written by Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky in 1862, almost 150 years ago.

Plus ça change



1. orchid - 9 January 2007

hmmm…just wondering what brought about this sudden nostalgia re all things English? :) Surely can’t be the 5-0 drubbing? ;)

2. Moderate Enlightenment - 9 January 2007

So kind of you to bring up the cricket, which gives us the opportunity to clarify that we have a self-imposed moratorium on cricket talk at this blog, in case you didn’t notice… Hajj n’all that, of course. ;-)

As for nostalgia re London…then as they almost say.. “you can take the boy of London, but you cannot take London out of the boy“. Once a Londoner, always a Londoner.

Tonight seems to be the night for rehashing and reheating old stuff, so I will end with something I read just before I first set foot in London many (too many?) years ago, a cliche, the second sentence of which I have never disagreed with since:

Why, Sir, you find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.”
Samuel Johnson, 1777.

3. orchid - 12 January 2007

“gives us the opportunity to clarify that we have a self-imposed moratorium on cricket talk at this blog, in case you didn’t notice… Hajj n’all that, of course. ;-)”

Ahhh I didn’t know Hajj qualified as an excuse for burying one’s head in the sand. In anycase, just to make things more clear, so how long is this moratorium going to last? Another 10/20 years or when the Urn returns to England, whichever comes early?

4. Abu Abdur Rahman - 14 January 2007

The urn is in England young lady. It is where it belongs, at the MCC museum at Lord’s :-) And a wonderful place it is too.

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