I live in a rural outback that I could hold up and call the ‘heart of Britain’ or ‘Britain’s Heartland’ or ‘True Britain’.
Or anything else insultingly reductive and exclusive.
I could look around and see cricket pitches and rolling hills and the green grass of home. I could see the Britain the officer class sent people to die for. I could see the postcard Britain that drove people to travel perilously across the world to live and work here. I could see the perfect, civilised Britain that embodies a certain sensibility and set of values. A sensibility and a set of values that made us so morally superior in the world that we had a duty to become an expansionist, military civilising power.
Because what made us a marauding army of dominance and death in many ways lies right here in the green grass peacefulness of the village. This is a well off little village. People spend money here. I live at number 5 on my street and during this week alone I saw that: Number 1 bought a new two seater sports car, number 2 re-did their garden with beautiful wooden decking, number 3 installed a brand new conservatory, number 4 went on holiday to some far flung tropical island and we, perhaps the most modestly, had some new laminate flooring for our kitchen put in. This, of course, is for our second kitchen, it would be treacherous waters indeed to have people round to see laminate flooring in our main kitchen.
We spend a lot of time in the kitchen.
I like being in the kitchen. It’s a nice place to be. But as I was saying, this is a wealthy village and a lot of it’s wealth is not generated in the village. We are a little community sitting on the top of a massive pile of communities and we are doing very well out of the pile. A lot of the pile, in fact, but the pile’s filth and pain and chaos does not come here, not to the pristine green grass we have here. And we can forget about it whilst always remembering it and imagining that it is our manners, our green grass, our cricket and our cakes, our polite conversations in the street, that make our community so different to theirs.