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 Vast, well-sprung perambulators have been replaced by space age buggies, starched nannies and beparasoled ladies have disappeared, loud Eastenders in Versace copies and flipflops have taken their place.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.”