Sunday, May 3, 2009

How Britain Lost Its Great

Next door neighbour Pat lent us Quentin Letts’ book 50 People Who Buggered Up Britain. Accepting the fact that he yearns for a Britain that never existed his acerbic pieces about his chosen villains are very readable. He’s provocative though romantically right wing in his ranting. He’s in favour of fox-hunting.

He does criticise some Tories. Kenneth Baker really gets the stick for abolishing caning in schools. Ted Heath collects a packet but that’s for sacking Enoch Powell over his immigration speech. Letts does point out, however, ‘the ‘black man’ has actually turned out, in many cases, to be one of the last proponents of family support, Christian charity and communal endeavour – once common standards which have crumbled like Dorset’s Jurassic coast.’ Margaret Thatcher’s sin was to destroy the Conservative vote in North England by her overkill in the miner’s strike.

As for Beeching ‘His decision to cut 100,000 jobs and to close 2,000 railway stations, along with 5,000 miles of rail track which had been built at the cost of countless navvies’ lives, was one of the most anti-progressive steps of the last fifty years.’

Princess Diana cops a lot of bile. [She] 'was a liability, a soufflĂ© of false ideas, a super-model with all that that entails.' 'Diana robbed us of the stoicism and understatement which had served Britain well.’ Her butler Burrell ‘manages the rare feat of being both disreputable and dreary.’

Tony Greig’s voice is ‘as nasty a sound as the human larynx can make – jagged, guttural, conveying scorn and aggression.’ His sin was to lead cricket down the TV one-day hype path. Greg Dyke from BBC is responsible for making Britons more tired by shifting the night news from 9 to 10. Howard Schultz of Starbucks gets a roasting for bad coffee. While the Rev Jaspers whom I’ve never heard of is responsible for the replacement of the Book of Common Prayer with its ‘steady cadences’ with inadequate new versions. ‘Disease, drought, death – all have come and gone in previous centuries. The Prayer Book shows modern mankind that he is not quite so exceptional after all.’

That last sentence reflects his lazy thinking. I enjoyed the book though.

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