There are those times, when current times, retrench you back into old and reassuring books to cope with the current trauma. In France they read philosophers, those intelligent ladies and gents who generate and formulate great modes of thought. In the UK I don’t suppose we have great Sartre and De Beauvoir like theorists, we have the homespun, common sense writings of the likes of Orwell and Priestley. What the great French philosophers might have achieved in the heady café society os St germain des Près, the English do in forside chats with a pint and a pipe – course nowadays this kind of fume-filled philosophy has become a thing of the past – don’t burn a fire in your hearth or yopu might at best pollute the air or at worst just burn your house down. Beer is bad for you and as for the pipe, well smoking is taboo to the point of getting you ostracised from any society.
I lke my decaying fume and fug vision of the UK. I love the stale smoke, stale beer smell of the pun in the morning. I like homespun; common sense and well thought words. Yes I’ve tried to do my fair share of Sartre, but it’s all illusiory compared to a good Orwell essay.
Anyway, as a last Brexit offering, some words from J.B Priestley on the subject of “Coming Home” – though pending an eventual Brexit, I am more than just a littkle stateless, so the words of Priestley and Orwell come as comfort. Before the following passage, do have a read of George Orwell’s essay on Nationalism – it applies to current UK dilemmas very well.
So; J.B Priestley and “Coming Home”
I am not impressed by the raptures of homecoming travellers when they single out the White Cliffs of Dover, the comfortable slopes of the Downs, the dazzling scribble of buttercups and daisies outside the train windows; for when I have been some time away from England, ten even what I usually dislike can bring me a flash of delight. I welcome with joy the glum railway sidings, the platforms that exist in a permanent November, the Daily Piffler and the Weekly Blatherer on the bookstalls, the mournful muck of the refreshment rooms, the gimrack bungalows, the little towns that have never been once gaudy or gay, the hoardings given up to second rate musical comedies, the vast gloom and decay of London. What a civilisation! What a mess! What a country! But I’m home … I’m home.
No date on the text, but written pre 1939. Guess I might have to revise this, but I just love it.
Final word – in the Brexit vote on 23/06/2016, Dover voted 68% in favor of leaving Europe, but then Dover is, and always has been a very sinister place.