Sunday 16 March 2008

Real England

Hooray! Paul's new book Real England is out very soon, and small bits of it are readable now. They are currently unfortunately only available in the Daily Mail, which leaves me with a dilemma - can I really bring myself to link to the Daily bloody Mail?

I actually stole a copy yesterday before I realised I could read it online - if I'd been caught I wasn't sure if I'd be more embarrassed about shoplifting or about wanting a copy of the Daily Mail. Anyway, there will be more of it in the Mail on Monday, you really should read it and you really shouldn't buy the Daily Mail, so I'm just going to point you at it once.

That's it, I'm not going to do it again until it's in the Guardian, and then only if there aren't any "Fly to Prague for 20p" adverts next to it.



Ralph Mills said...

Hmm....interesting. This is a very Daily Mail sort of book, based as it is on a romantic vision of the past that is actually complete nonsense (in my experience). I laughed out loud that picture of the happy little's a total fiction. Small shops were mean little places, with grumpy, unfriendly shopkeepers who were working class Tories and who paid their miserable staff peanuts, with no benefits. They sold tatty stuff that was overpriced and was made in sweatshops, the only difference being that the sweatshops were in poor parts of Britain rather than abroad. "Going to the shops" was a chore usually undertaken by overburdened women who struggled with their loads several times a week, as it would have been impossible to carry a week's worth of shopping in a single trip. And so on and so on.

I don't support out of town megastores and foodmiles, but just think, if you manufacture soap powder these days you deliver it to distributors who the deliver it to, say 1000 supermarkets. Imagine the carbon footprint of delivering tiny amounts of soap powder to 100,000 grocery shops! The air was foul in the 1950s and 60s, as were rivers. We heated draughty, uninsulated homes using vast amounts of coal and paraffin and wood. Brrr! We were at the mercy of nasty landlords. Women had yet to be liberated by contraception. Yes, we caught the bus to the shops, but the bus spewed carbon and diesel fumes into the atmosphere.

I was a child when there were still sweetshops. I can remember pea-souper fogs and the greyness of everything. Yes, homogeneity is bad, but it doesn't necessary mean that what it replaces is better by default.

Anonymous said...

The idea of shoplifting a copy of the Daily Mail is hilarious. The bang-em-up-and-forget-em brigade's newspaper of choice — and it gets stolen. Thanks for the laugh.