Land of Dopes
27th June 2016
How ironic to be traveling to Leeds today to an awards ceremony with a film that celebrates an English idyll.
Beatrix Potter was more than averagely interested in animals – her childhood pets were cherished friends. They were much studied and sketched. When they died they went into the pot to be rendered down to bones, and their skeletons reassembled.
Beatrix was a scientist and a realist. She wrote her animal stories not for the fame but the fortune. They brought her independence and later, a huge property portfolio.
In our film for More4, stout-hearted Patricia Routledge made no bones about the author’s business head. We didn’t discuss her political leanings, but I think we can guess. In her youth she railed against Irish nationalism and English socialism. She was appalled by the General Strike. In the Lake District she campaigned against bungalow-builders, motor-cars and noisy flying machines.
Helen Beatrix probably had old-fashioned views on democracy and would almost certainly have opposed union with Europe. She would also have bemoaned the decline of the political class. She had no time for toads. The despicable Farage and his Blueshirts clearly yearn for the sort of fantasy England she created: lush landscapes, a well-defined social order, females who knew their place. She knew it was illusion. They’ve promised it to the electorate.
Today we’re headed to a New English reality that’s a bit more Wyndham and Orwell: obscure, isolated, dysfunctional, uninteresting, backward, dumbed-down and dark. The immigrants who would have enlivened us as newcomers always have will wisely stay away. The Scots will un-dock, the Irish will unite and prosper, the mainland will dwindle.
If we win tonight it will be an occasion of great joy. RTS ceremonies are always dazzling occasions. Which is much needed, because it will be very dark outside.