Friday, 17 June 2016

My Britain is the Britain of Pied Beauty. Give me my country back.

Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote my favourite poem, Pied Beauty.

"GLORY be to God for dappled things—
  For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
    For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
  Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;        
    And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.
All things counter, original, spare, strange;
  Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
    With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:        
                  Praise him."


This is my Britain,  a land of dappled things. A land of beauty, a land where some things lie unchanged for centuries.

As Larkin spoke of what will survive of us is love, I understand what he means in the outpouring of love, kindness and thankfulness for Jo Cox MP, who was murdered yesterday in an act of brutality that I cannot understand, nor really want to, however many times it forces itself upon me.

Others have written today about the political discourse, about the smallness of men like Nigel Farage, juxtaposing their "common sense" rhetoric with it's incendiary aspects and this horrific act in a typical British street, on a mundane Thursday in June.

How can this happen? we ask ourselves. And all too clearly comes the answer. We let it. The challenge when identity is under debate is how we present ourselves, a country adrift in a globalised world it used to rule. I don't understand really why people cling to British-as-Imperialists or even if that's what people think they are doing,  or what stories they tell each other about who we used to be. I don't understand white supremacists either, to be honest, it not really being the case that white people are oppressed by anything other than other white people...

But I understand MY decent, tolerant country. My Britain has beauty and an unchanging constancy underneath. It has survived the worst of times from outside in the Second World War, and from inside during the Civil War and what feels like is happening now. Things are changing, plates are shifting. But the Britain we want is about attitudes and kindness and love, things that Jo Cox clearly had in spades. We need more of her sort. We need more of her kind.

I want my country back. Give it to me.

Put down the pitchforks. Stop listening to the man with the easy platitudes and the false bonhomie he switches off when someone asks him a pointed question. Get off the bandwagon- this isn't us. This isn't what our grandparents and great-grandparents fought for. Now it's our turn to fight to hold onto what we love.

Give me my country back.


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