I've been thinking about Englishness, and what it means to me. Not yet come to any conclusions, of course; but I do have a few interim thoughts.
1) there's more than one "England," and they're often opposed to one another.
There's the England of the rural South-East, all chalk downs and nostalgia for the past, and the England of the future, all coffee-bars and glass-fronted offices.
There's the urban experience of the industrial North and the suburban experience.
There's the tough-as-nails landscape of the north and the seemingly softer South.
There's the England of the immigrant - from the Jews who've arrived here since they were allowed back in the country (18th Century?) to the England that the Polish plumber (yes I know that's a cliche) meets on his arrival in Stoke-on-Trent.
There's the England of the radical left - the Diggers, the Quakers, etc and the England of the Anglican Establishment.
There's the England of the empirical down to earth Movement poets and the England of the neo-Romantic imagination (from Dylan Thomas to Peter Redgrove and beyond.)
2.) Everybody's nostalgic for something. Nostalgia is where a lot of poetry comes from, but it can be dangerous if over-valorised.
THE MOTHER OF ALL WEEKS
4 days ago