Monday, April 09, 2007

But how do you REALLY feel?

I said last week that "the sun has officially set on the British Empire.". As this post in the Corner from Derb shows, my reaction was mild...
My Mum...in one of the last conversations I had with her, said: "I know I'm dying, but I don't mind. At least I knew England when she was England."

I discounted that at the time. Old people always grumble about the state of the world. Now I understand it, though. I even feel a bit the same way myself. I caught the tail-end of that old England—that bumptious, arrogant, self-confident old England, the England of complicated games, snobbery, irony, repression, and stoicism, the England of suet puddings, drafty houses, coal smoke and bad teeth, the England of throat-catching poetry and gardens and tweeds, the England that civilized the whole world and gave an example of adult behavior—the English Gentleman—that was admired from Peking (I can testify) to Peru.

It's all gone now, "dead as mutton," as English people used to say. Now there is nothing there but a flock of whimpering Eloi, giggling over their gadgets, whining for their handouts, crying for their Mummies, playing at soldiering for reasons they can no longer understand, from lingering habit. Lower the corpse down slowly, shovel in the earth. England is dead.

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