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Will The Saxon

Saturday night saw us in Ashford in Kent; what a contrast to the orchards and woods and seas, and even the friendly bustle of Whitstable!  Ashford was silent and empty, a series of one way systems around a huge shopping mall. We ate at a good restaurant, and had interesting conversations. I record a couple of these now because they baffle me somewhat. It's not my intention to present the speakers as oddities or mutants, but the fact is I do not understand the mindsets involved. To each their own, as they say. For context, these are pleasant folk I have known a while, tourists in Kent, fervent Brexiters, born mid/just post the last war.

A gentleman whose declarations have surprised me somewhat in the past ('Shakespeare's plays are Anglo-Saxon stories,' being one of his most extraordinary claims )  spoke to us of the possibilities of Germans coming over here and voting en masse to change our government. Others dealt with that argument more keenly than I could. Then he mentioned that to protect your culture against all others was natural, that it occurred universally throughout the animal kingdom. There was no real time to mention how evidence suggests early humans, neanderthals and denisovans etc interbred, because the more glaring non-sequiturs within the claim were being taken to task by one cooler of temper than myself.

 At another point during the holiday his wife spoke to me about the wrongness of bringing coach loads of 'undesireables,' from inner cities to live in the country.  'They don't like it anyway,' she said, and talked about these people all causing trouble, and wanting to go back to the city. She was very sure it was better to keep the townfolk in the town and the countryfolk in the country like some  variation on Wells' Eloi and Morlocks.  I thought about my father - of an age with this pair - loving the coast of Tighnabruich,and how different things may have been if he had been given the chance to grow up there rather than the council estates of Glasgow. And I recall how obscenely racist he was, though I hope/suspect he changed with age.

 'Who are these undesireables?' I asked.

'I thought you would ask that,' was her only reply.

It left me with that sense of the surreal I often get when speaking to a certain kind of Brit. I was born here, came back, and it wasn't very nice. But the culture wasn't some delicate thing that needed surrounding with a wall of fire; it was and is a powerful thing. And if it isn't threatened by towns like Ashford being turned into ersatzt consumption centres dead at the heart, why is it threatened by faces from a different town, a different county, a different country? My earliest perceptions were  formed by Singapore, full of Malaysians and Chinese and English and Indians... it wasn't weakened by their presence. If Brits need to protect their culture so much, why are they mute when their wildernesses are destroyed, when their old buildings are bulldozed away, when their art, their literature, their history lie in dust on the shelf? Why are they only vociferous about their culture when faced with a stranger?

I say 'History'. That's another issue. We only seem to be taught enough history to make us shout 'Hurrah!' at the sight of a Union Jack. If we were taught  in schools about British war crimes and atrocities with anything even approaching the honesty of German education in the light of the world wars, there might be a little less of this strange proud ignorance. The man who made the comment about Shakespeare's plays was well educated for his time, Grammar school and all that.  We have been  told what to think, but not how to think, how to gather information, consider its veracity and weigh it up irrespective of preference. We are not taught any methods of  judgement, and those who expect basic commonsense to suddenly rear its head in an atmosphere of resentment,prejudice, lack of hard facts and institutionalised greed may well be despairing... as despairing as a teacher finding themselves in a room full of pupils convinced that Will Shakespeare was Anglo Saxon.

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
november_girl
May. 13th, 2016 11:43 pm (UTC)
Interesting and well-written (as ever).
x
smokingboot
May. 15th, 2016 07:08 am (UTC)
Thanks, I am glad you enjoyed it :-)
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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