Thursday, May 31, 2007

How beastly the bourgeois is ...

... though D.H. is not really appropriate here, because the utterance originally came from the female of the species, and she was an Essex nimby:

A spokesman for the Stop Stansted Expansion campaign told BBC News: "If Stansted were permitted to expand to maximum use of the existing runway, the local environment would suffer, the national economy would suffer and we would have taken a giant step backwards in the battle to combat climate change."

Carol Barbone, from the campaign group, said the expansion would not help the economy because it was encouraging people to go on holiday abroad.

Malcolm, with his usual perceptiveness, read the sub-text: it's all fine and dandy to have a convenient airport for us business types, but — my goodness! — the lower orders are getting above themselves! Going orf to Spain and Ibiza when they should be quite happy at Cleethorpes or Whitley Bay.

The point is reinforced by the delicate tendresse with which the BBC treats its chosen few:
Protesters lobbied the first session of a public inquiry into expanding Stansted Airport. But the campaigners from nearby towns and villages were far from the stereotype of green activists.

They wore Barbour jackets rather than camouflage gear, and sensible brogues in place of Doc Martens.

Not so much a protest, more a Daily Telegraph fashion parade.

There is, of course, nothing new here. The class system is based upon such things. Wordsworth, recently appointed as Poet Laureate, wrote a letter to Gladstone, the President of the Board of Trade, on October 15th, 1844, asking him to prevent the railway coming to Kendal :
We are in this neighbourhood all in consternation, that is, every man of taste and feeling, at the stir which is made for carrying a branch Railway from Kendal to the head of Windermere.
He could have been as well standing at Stansted in his Barbour and brogues to declaim his accompanying sonnet:
And is no nook of English ground secure
From rash assault? Schemes of retirement sown
In youth, and ‘mid the busy world kept pure
As when their earliest flowers of hope were blown,
Must perish; — how can they this blight endure?
And must he too his old delights disown
Who scorns a false utilitarian lure
‘Mid his paternal fields at random thrown?
Malcolm finds it remarkable, and depressing, that the mind-set, the attitudes, the prejudices and even the vocabulary of English Toryism passes unchanged through generations. So, appropriately, back to Lawrence:
Full of seething, wormy, hollow feelings
rather nasty—
How beastly the bourgeois is!

Standing in their thousands, these appearances, in damp England
what a pity they can’t all be kicked over
like sickening toadstools, and left to melt back, swiftly
into the soil of England.
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