I have been more or less keeping up with the comments on my recent postings, and sometimes they get lively. Thank you, gentlemen.
Last Tuesday I started one of the most violent bronchitis bouts I have had in my life. My upper respiratory tract and back of my throat felt as if someone had made me breathe World War I mustard gas or evaporated battery acid! I was shivering and sweating, and that was my signal to see my doctor last Wednesday morning to get some antibiotics. It seems to be passing as the fever has gone, and the coughing is still quite painful. My wife caught it a couple of days later, and I have been looking after her too. So I haven’t been very productive on the blog or reactive to some of the cyber happenings – on which I prefer not to comment anyway.
What is more disturbing is the more graver sickness that afflicts my country. I am not a political animal or a right-winger, or a xenophobe – but I am a patriot. England gave me my birth in a good family. I am proud of the language in which I am writing now, even though I have spent more of my life in France than in my native country. I grew up in the Lake District, and seeing the white triangular sails on Windermere made me dream. Ours is a country of freedom and initiative, the encouragement of excellence and achievement. We have or had our schools and universities, and our institutions. Our law has always been firm but fair, and miscarriages of justice are rare, or have been.
The greenness of our land still makes me dream and sick with nostalgia. It makes it worse to play recordings of Elgar or Vaughan Williams, or read Milton, Shakespeare of Evelyn Waugh. I sang in York Minster forty years ago and went to school like so many other young Anglican boys, knowing that much would be expected of us in the way of work, duty and a sense of fair play. I am an Englishman.
Then I read this – Alien nation: The new census reveals a Britain that would be unrecognisable even to our grandparents. Now I know what it was like for Russians fleeing to France and the USA in 1917. I reeled and thought of the lamentation of Jesus over Jerusalem. For the first time in my life, I literally wept over my country! I left thirty years ago to come to France in search of a vocation which I never really found. Like a moth flitting around a lamp, I burned myself and have to live as I can with a wife who has her difficulties in following it all.
My parents are old and may not be around for much longer. They represent my roots in values that were forged in English life of between the wars. My father, once so buoyant and optimistic, can only see storm clouds as in those dark days of 1939. It hurts to hear his cynicism and inner hurt.
Well, what is happening? It’s a whole culture change. Every time I go over, it is with a sense of foreboding, crossing through alien territory on the way to the tiny fragments of England that are the homes of my parents, brother, sisters and a few friends. We have always had a few foreigners, and I am a foreigner in a country where I wasn’t born. I remember the first black kid at my primary school in the 1960’s. My first reaction? Her skin’s a different colour, but Stella is a beautiful looking girl, and she’s just as human as anybody else. I even wished I was black myself! The schoolteachers were so afraid we would tease her for being black! Perhaps some kids did, but that black girl mesmerised me. I love difference and tolerance, but it’s something else now. In London I loved going down Brick Lane for a good curry with friends. It was exciting to meet Indians, Jewish people, Pakistanis. We used to have an Empire, and it’s only natural the peoples we colonised would seek a home in our country. Why not? I’ve always known those people to be hard workers and honest as day.
What is really beastly is that those people are being used for social engineering experiments by our Orwellian politicians and bureaucrats. That is what is transforming our country out of recognition and wrenching our English hearts!
Is it better here in France? Not really, but the country is bigger, less densely populated and easier to find one’s place. Perhaps, one day, it will be “good bye, Europe“, but to go where? Until we know that, we can only stay put, knowing that it is all only for a time.
Come, Lord Jesus!