Thursday, 26 September 2013

In The Money

'He then spent two years as a banker at Robert Fleming before following the family tradition by entering Panmure Gordon; he became a partner before the age of 30. Moving into a flat in Basil Street, Knightsbridge, he threw what a friend described as “endless parties with the most beautiful girls”.'


'Nigel Paul Farage was born in Kent in 1964, one of two sons of a colourful and hard-drinking City stockbroker. Guy Justus Oscar Farage’s propensity to mix work with pleasure was clearly influential on the young Nigel, who followed his father into the City as a highly remunerated commodities trader. (Andrew, Farage’s younger brother, also headed to the City, where he still works as a broker on the London Metal Exchange.)
Guy, who became an alcoholic, divorced his wife Barbara when Nigel was five. But Farage acknowledges his father’s influence: like Guy – “the best-dressed man in the stock exchange at the time” – Nigel bears the demeanour and attire of a City gent before the barbarians were allowed in after the 1986 “Big Bang” reforms.'

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Desires and Memories

"Thou art nothing. And all thy desires and memories and loves and dreams, nothing. The little dead earth-louse were of greater avail than thou, were it not nothing as thou art nothing. For all is nothing: earth and sky and sea and they that dwell therein. Nor shall this illusion comfort thee, if it might, that when thou art abolished these things shall endure for a season, stars and months return, and men grow old and die, and new men and women live and love and die and be forgotten. For what is it to thee, that shalt be as a blown-out flame? and all things in earth and heaven, and things past and things for to come, and life and death, and the mere elements of space and time, of being and not being, all shall be nothing unto thee; because thou shalt be nothing, for ever." 

E.R. Eddison - The Worm Ouroboros


“All Englishmen who were in their twenties in 1905 had at least one thing in common: They’d watched the world of their childhoods die. Just as they were coming of age,electricity replaced gaslight. Cars and buses replaced horses and bicycles. Urban populations were exploding, mass media and advertising were yammering, and mechanized warfare crouched in the wings, ready and waiting. The early twentieth century looked and sounded and smelled nothing like the late nineteenth. “In those days of the eighties and nineties of the nineteenth century the rhythm of London traffic which one listened to as one fell asleep in one’s nursery was the rhythm of horses’ hooves clopclopping down London streets in broughams, hansom cabs, and four-wheelers,” Woolf would write, toward the end of his life, in the unimaginable year of1960. “And the rhythm, the tempo got into one’s blood and one’s brain, so that in a sense I have never become entirely reconciled in London to the rhythm and tempo of the whizzing and rushing cars.” Woolf felt displaced, like the hero of H. G. Wells’s The Time Machine, exiled in the future. So did everybody else—Evelyn Waugh once remarked that if he ever got a hold of a time machine, he’d put it in reverse and go backward, into the past. “

“But by the time we reach them, those green fields are always in decline. The spell never lasts. King Arthur is always dying, and theElves are always shuffling off toward Valinor, where mortals cannot follow. Narnia falls into chaos, then drowns and freezes, and the survivors retreat into Aslan’s Land. We think of fantasy and modernism as worlds apart, but somehow they always end up in the same place. They are perfectly symmetrical. Fantasy is a prelude to the apocalypse. Modernism is the epilogue.”


Central Office Calling

 Quite a good Radio 4 program about British conservatism here. Even Dominic Sandbrook is ok.

Monday, 2 September 2013

Tories at play: further notes from the field

Part II: Individual sports

Lawn Tennis

If rugby is war, and cricket is social life, then tennis is reproduction. As John Betjemen saw in 'A Subaltern’s Love Song' the main function of tennis was as a dating agency for middle England. The tennis club, or the tennis party, was a way of letting young men and women meet each other in a respectable environment. Having a large, well mown lawn suitable for a tennis party was an excellent display of social status. Plus. English people are naturally slightly shy, and have always needed a helping hand in this area. In tennis two (or four in doubles) people play against each other. This allows them to display athleticism (i.e good bone structure and the like) to one another, and the competitive element adds frisson. A perfect game for Surrey smoothies. Tennis has always appeared more progressive in gender terms, due to the relatively high status of the women's game. However, this merely confirms the sexual dynamics of tennis, and reveals mixed doubles to be its real heart.

All this explains why the English have been so bad at professional tennis: to do really well at it would be To Miss The Point. The only great English tennis player was Fred Perry, who came from a very different background to most members of the All England Club (his father was a former cotton spinner and national secretary of the Co-Operative Party). Shunned by those who ran the game, he left for Hollywood in the late '30s where he had an affair with Marlene Dietritch. 

Field Sports [hunting, shooting, fishing]

The main point of field sports to demonstrate what a huge amount of land you own, as all field sports need large 'special areas' in the countryside. Or in the case of hunting, your social influence that allows you to charge through other peoples land with impunity. Even if you aren't a land owner, being good at these activities allows you to flatter yourself that you are at least a hanger-on. Participants are usually invited down [or up] for the weekend, you can't just turn up and play. It is, as Withnail said, "Free for those can afford it". The right kit is essential too: hunting pinks, horses, gun dogs, rods, plus fours etc. Its also very expensive. Purdey won't even tell you how much a bespoke 12 bore would set you back. And, of course, this sets up a demand for budget alternatives that reinforce social distinction: pitch-and-put, .22 shooting etc.


Johnathan Meades has already done golf for us, so I'll leave it there.