Friday, 30 September 2011
Even though we cannot herald the return of a summer that never leaves us (well, nearly, never leaves us), we can respond to the slightly lengthening days by grouching less about the decline and fall of the world from which we fled, arms waving and with a silent scream to "Save our souls alive!"
I have written quite a bit about my own nostalgia for the past and I don't mean the past that never was, some Golden Age of Ye Olde England; a Merchant Ivory set, with actors in dodgy costumes, filmed through fogged lenses. I always mean the past that I actually remember: the people, places, events; customs and ceremonies and local and national celebration of a reasonably cohesive society; all its sights, sounds, smells and tastes: from cattle markets (straw, dung and sugary tea) to the opera (scent, satin and marvellous sound). I mean the thousand small civilities of everyday: centred around - "Good morning"; "Good Afternoon"; "Good Evening", and "Good Night"; "I'm so sorry" - "Not at all!"; in place of "Who are you?" and "What do you want?" to "What's going on here then?"; "I'm sorry, we're closing"; "Mind your backs!" - and "I can't be bothered".
The current burghers of my home town lost my sympathy when they demolished Oscar Deutsch's 1936 Odeon cinema - a dream palace of a place, built by a local firm, for several generations to enjoy (snuggled down with a bar of Cadbury's, in the red velvet and the dark), and replaced it with a building that will be replaced again in 25 years' time. In fact, so symbolic for me was that gleeful demolition (an ugly little gnome of a man, on a JCB digger, moronically grinning as he laid into its fabric), that the whole society lost my vote and so I left.
I know that this sounds extreme but, after all, there is no war as such; no "facing fearful odds"; no standing firm on a bridge as the barbarians rush forward; just several tens of millions of money-grubbing ignoramuses against a few tens of thousands of us; wearing away at all that we hold dear. That's the reality. They are bound to win in the end.
So today I made a resolution: what's done is done and if grouching there is to be, there will be far less of it. There should be far more Groucho and far less grouching; from now on.
Posted by NJS at 09:52