Monday, June 12, 2006

How to pass a UK citizenship test

If you can't remember Britain's second emergency number, or the details of employment law w/r/t trade-union membership, you might write this in any space provided for additional information:

I don't give a hang for all the sound intellectual reasons for devotion to a country -- pride in its greatness or its blasted 'rough island story', or the pedigree of its kings. I would as soon love it for its imports of jute. As far as I can tell, my own regard for England is almost wholly sensuous, or at any rate broad-based on something sensuous. My England is the Strand and Waterloo Bridge and all the Thames and the Pennine Hills here, and the crowd at a League football match, and Midland farmers talking like Shallow and Silence about the price of beasts, and the look of the common soldier in France at anything new, and the special kind of good-temper and humour and relenting decency that the man of the working classes has here. It's always something visible or audible or tactible, and there's not a scrap of a sound intellectual reason why I should feel any affection for it, any more than there is why most of us should be loved by our wives. In fact it is love and not judgment or wise criticism, which are much inferior affairs.

That's C.E. Montague again, inevitably, in a letter reproduced in the only full-length biography of him. It's here because I declaimed it aloud to a very knowing American of my acquaintance and he seemed to like it.

[C.E Montague: A Memoir, Oliver Elton, London, 1929. An old-fashioned praise-filled life and letters, always looking for an appropriate place to insert another of the subject's unpublished poems. Impressively thorough, though.]

Service note: Many apologies, dear reader, if you were on while something was triple-posted a few minutes ago. Wireless connection on blink + my stupidity = result you saw. And this blog will get back to quoting something other than journalism and books by old journalists soon, I promise.

1 comment:

thefatman said...

isn't it about time you updated this blog?!?