Halfway between trooping the colours and kissing a baby


Winston Churchill, like JFK, is one of those characters that you end up liking and disliking ever more intensely as you study them.  What no one (I’ve heard) ever questions, is that Britain was lucky to have him when they needed him.

I’m amused by the presence here, of a political sycophant (t’was ever thus?)

But this weirdly modern photo-op visit by Churchill to recently bombed Bristol reminds me most of my favourite George Orwell novel.

Not 1984 (which was supposed to be called 1948) great though that is.
Not animal farm – which is a splendid critique, now missing a direct object.

– Keep the aspidistra flying – before I read this book, I thought a lot of the problems of the world and our particular critical responses to them, were entirely modern, post-war (post-modernist?), but this simply isn’t so.

Consumerism as the one true faith, advertising instead of honesty, working without dignity as a replaceable cog on an endless treadmill, mass-media political stagecraft – all of this dates back to the early twentieth century and some of it even further than that.

Suddenly I could imagine my grandfather as a young man, feeling precisely the same quality of horror about the way the world is run as I did – injustice and insincerity, obscene wealth and poverty – so much irreplaceable human potential going to waste.  An epic (and ongoing) tragedy.

On the one hand, this makes these problems seem even bigger – but on the other hand, it also makes me feel like we have allies and ancestors that we never talk about, stretching much further back than we realize.

It’s only fair to mention that there is in this book, (and the also excellent and under-read ‘Coming up for air’) a sense of the looming war just over the horizon – but that’s not far-unlike our own sense of immanent threat.

And if, like me, you take these works as a sign that even a global military cataclysm can’t disrupt the long-term continuity of inquiry and skepticism, you’re sure to find them historically invigorating, and ultimately heartening.

Genuine masterpieces of style also, of course – the guy could WRITE!

I am always curious about what you are thinking

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