Thursday, September 02, 2010

Found: a piece of England...

I wondered, as soon as I saw it laid in front of me as I walked down a leafy avenue in Hull, what the significance of this object was. It felt as if a point was being made. A copy of Billy Bragg and The Blokes' England, Half English discarded. Spent. Left to rot.

But it didn't stop me from picking it up, checking to see if the CD was intact (it was) and passing it to M to pop in her bag for safekeeping. "No," she said, "I'm not. That'd be like stealing it." Which it wouldn't. The CD had been well-handled and had been tossed aside, unloved. But the fact that I'm picking up someone else's rubbish....that's very 21st century Englishness, isn't it? Begging, stealing, borrowing. It's on the CD player now. After one play, I shall drop it in the street and let this copy of England, Half English continue its journey.

Worth noting that, on the inner sleeve, there's a George Orwell quote:

"Englishness is continuous. It stretches into the future and the past, there is something in it that persists, as in a living creature. What can the England of 1940 have in common with the England of 1840? But then, what have you in common with the child of five whose photograph your mother keeps on the mantlepiece? Nothing, except that you happen to be the same person."

George Orwell, England, Your England from The Lion and the Unicorn (1941)

No comments: