I've not felt I've had much time to blog recently - too much rushing around on work projects. However, there are two articles from the newspapers that I do want to give mention to.
Tim Lott wrote an article on a progressive, inclusive English nationalism in the Independent yesterday - "I'm proud of my country – the land of Blake, Dickens, Orwell, and Ian Dury" - and it's one I feel sums up my own (pretty woolly) nationalistic feelings. One of having a sense of place, a sense of shared culture - rather than one based on land, ethnicity or religion. Interestingly enough, when I taught in Liverpool with some very disaffected students, we ran a 'Sense of Place' unit each summer (part of a citywide competition) which involved touring around the city in a mini-bus taking photos of iconic and quite ordinary places, talking about them as we went along, and then returning to the classroom to write poetry about them. It proved to be one of the most successful topics with the students, for most of whom English Literature was an immediate turn-off, and on occasion produced some inspired efforts. It seems, as Tim Lott says, "we all ache to fuse ourselves with something above and beyond us, which we can take pride in and draw a sense of self-respect from..."
This followed an article by Peter Oborne in the Telegraph which I read this earlier week or the week and has stuck in my mind ever since. The article looked at the immense divisions of wealth in Brtain - "The rise of the overclass" - with reference to particular areas of the English heartlands that have in many ways become enclaves for the super-rich. I think this article reflects the current sense of unfairness with 'how things are', and taps into our disillusionment - the fascination the general public once had with the likes of Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich and co is perhaps turning to a quiet anger.
It's hard to know whether we are really living in radical times, whether we (as Europeans, as British, as English, Scottish, Welsh, Irish etc., as Earthlings even) are on the cusp of a reimagining of ourselves and the little worlds we live in - as the saying goes, history will be the judge of that - but it sometimes feels like maybe we are seeing the green shoots of a revolution (of sorts).