Beside the Seaside

John H Glover-Kind wrote the famous old music hall song in 1907. With the exception of multicoloured fairy lights, casting reflective splashes at night on the waters of the boating lake, little structurally seems to have changed. Culturally, however, the changes are profound. Wooden boats have gone, huge plastic swans have taken their place. Vast, well-sprung perambulators have been replaced by space age buggies, starched nannies and beparasoled ladies have disappeared, loud Eastenders in Versace copies and flipflops have taken their place. Children with improbable, porcupine haircuts attempt to destroy the gaudy toys bought for them from shops selling ticketed gewgaws. What’s all this about? Being English, I suppose. I find myself drowning in a welter of mediocrity, cultural blurring and lack of social cohesion or initative. I wish I knew what being English actually meant, the rules posted on the clubhouse door so that I could sign up before entry and feel that I belonged. As it is, I’m quite a well-dressed foreigner, it seems.

Ran across this today. India is a genuinely rainbow nation, but has a unique cultural identity and seems in some way that the UK does not, to know where it is headed. Determined, resourceful people are still doing the job of nation building, sixty two years on.

Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we will redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance …. We end today a period of ill fortune, and India discovers herself again.”

From the historic All India Radio broadcast Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first Prime Minister.

Happy birthday, India.

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2 thoughts on “Beside the Seaside

  1. John-Loved this post.Good to hear from you on twitter. Can't figure out how to write back on the thing yet,but its good because I found this post of yours.

    I share your bewilderment with “What it means to be English.” In my case, “American.” I have returned to my “home” and found myself having difficulty reconnecting after 5 1/2years abroad. I fled Bush's “Merika” like an intellectual fleeing the Third Reich in the 1930's. They made it easy for me with all of their Nazi style propaganda, statism, and war.
    What I realized later was that I had been running from myself. Finding myself has been difficult and rooted in the process of recovery.
    Institutions, cultures, religions and other societal tags used to form the basis of my identity. External parameters failed me and I had to find a new paradigm with which to measure my progress, usefulness and “happiness.”
    Today I find that my “tribal” identity is best served through my recovery program and a spiritual pursuit on a daily basis.
    I am slowly turning the pages of the book that tells me who I am.
    I just returned from a month at “home” in California. It was a good time reconnecting with my family and pursuing employment opportunities. It was highlighted by some very good meetings with my “tribe” and some of the “tribal elders” who initiated me on this new journey.
    I felt a bit disconnected from the place, having moved from there in late 1991. The place was the same, but the people had changed a great deal it seemed. Or was it me? A little of both is probably correct. I was on vacation, enjoying every ray of sunshine and gentle afternoon breeze that hit me. I was living in the moment trying to capture all of the splendor of life back “home” while others simply went about their “normal” lives not particularly caring or awed by the spectacle.
    I tried to carry that memory and attitude as I live from day to day now here in Virginia where I temporarily “reside.” As a member of this global society I know I must make extra efforts sometimes to view place as just a transitory condition and put it in its proper perspective. The only thing I really possess is today and now.
    As for other parts of my life, the divorce is almost final. My attempt at finding another relationship led me to an affair with a Muslim woman who turned out to be certifiable. Doesn't say much for my regulator does it. But we live and learn and I learned that it is possible for me to love again, perhaps in a different, more mature and selfless way with the right lady when that day comes. Or, if I am smart I will focus on developing a better friendship with myself and those in my tribe whom I can depend on to give me the love and support that I need and deserve in life. Happy to count you as one of them. Best wishes in the new schoolyear. Looks like I'll be on the gridiron again coaching American Football and teaching kids about life.
    Cheers,
    Paul

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  2. Amazing and poignant as always, MathMan. I had to leave Canada to find out that the rest of the world views Canadians in a very different light than our rather mocking neighbours to the south, and indeed, different even than we see ourselves. Maybe a reputation for welcoming refugees and lauded peace keeping tendencies is the real deal and the rest is scenery. (P.S. I can't imagine anyone LESS like the “typical” Englishman than you. lol)

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