Thursday, 14 October 2010

Beauty Behind the Hedgerow

For once, an echo of Richard Jefferies rather than George Orwell.
The photograph is of a wild rose (or "Dog Rose") in an English rural hedgerow. It's not a rare thing, nobody specially planted it and it might one day be hacked back by a tractor-mounted hedge flail or make a meal for a Roe Deer. (NB: Given the choice, Roe Deer will take carefully bred and nurtured garden roses over wild ones, every time.)

It is, however, a little bit of beauty, sitting there waiting to be noticed. But this kind of thing is only noticed by those with an interest in the world as it is, the world around them, what's really there. People blinded by ideology, greed, material things, fear and aggression, can pass this kind of ordinary beauty by a million times and never notice once. That's not the only thing they never notice, either.

Those who cannot perceive plain, ordinary beauty in the world around them, are usually quite incapable of perceiving ugliness, especially in their own actions. Those who are not interested in what might behind the hedgerow, or further down the lane, cannot be custodians of lane and hedgerow. If they are disinterested, they have no stake in England.

Some extreme right groups have latched onto June Tabor's rendition of the alternative national anthem, "A Place Called England", which proves Medawar's argument twice over, because not only does that song define the English as "anyone who loves the English Earth" but they used the song, completely oblivious, never noticing that line or thinking about what it meant. They see and see, but cannot perceive.

The stunning, all pervading absence of perception of what England is, what matters about it, what it stands for, disqualifies the British National Party and the English Defence League from any claim to be English other than by the limited virtue of a dog-eared birth certificate for some members.

But if we are to disqualify from Englishness, anyone who is ignorant and unperceptive of what matters about this place, huge swathes of our mainstream politicians are out on their ear, too.

Antony Charles Lynton Blair, who isn't even legally entitled to the dog-eared birth certificate, having been born in Scotland. This was no shame, but it's not what he told the electors in his constituency and certainly not what his parents told the Durham Cathedral Chorister's School when they got him his place. Many a proud Scotsman has loved England more than Blair does, so why the very peculiar lie?

David Cameron, so ignorant of England that he thought that Great Britain was America's junior partner in the fight against NAZIsm in 1940 (when America's great and good were debating which side they were on, with a near-majority including Henry Ford and Joe Kennedy in favour of siding with Hitler).

William Hague and George Osborne, who think that if we have a sufficiently unfastidious foreign policy, we need spend little or nothing on defence.

Nick Clegg, whose hope and ambition is that England one day will become "A little bit of Spain or France", just like one of Elizabeth the First's less successful advisors.

They are not English, or capable of becoming English, anymore than the shaven-headed thugs of the BNP and EDL are. They are a foreign power, utterly alien in heart and mind to this country.

Everyone who has ever taken a quiet thrill in looking behind the hedge to see what's there, has already come to loathe Antony Charles Lynton Blair and all his works. Sooner or later, these others will give them equal cause for loathing, because they just cannot perceive what it is about this country that we value.

Elizabeth the First inherited a kingdom brought to the brink of ruin by her sister's ideology and extreme violence against free speech and tolerance, the life-blood of the country.
Rather than bend with the many fierce winds of European politics, which was the only course of action the materialists were able to perceive, she stood against them, and risked her own life and that of the nation to stand against what she knew was wrong and for what she believed to be right. She did not lead the nation to ruin by this reckless stubbornness, her reign became known as the golden age. She increased the military power of the realm, not to bully the world, but simply so that nobody could force her to do wrong.

If you glance behind the hedgerow, out of interest to see what's there, you are, or can be, English. If you look beyond the hedge only to dream how you can impose, by force, some memorial to yourself upon the landscape, you cannot be, however cunningly Mummy and Daddy spoke to the Durham registrar to persuade him to make a false entry.

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