Saturday 19 February 2011
I have always found the last two weeks of February the most challenging of the British winter. Even though we have the snowdrops and (so I noticed in Dorset this week) the odd daffodil, it is still chilly and bleak and drab with all the excitements of the cold season long past. My Swahili friends in Zanzibar, Dar and Mombasa are all complaining about the heat. The irony.
This year things seem particularly bad. We have the depressing, overwhelming blanket of austerity, real or imagined, cut thorough with the clear reality that the burden is not being shared fairly despite the bleating of Coalition ministers I have been re-reading David Kynaston's magisterial Austerity Britain and Family Britain about the immediate and not so immediate post war years (I have probably mentioned this before but they are long books). Kynaston curates a wonderful selection of first hand descriptions of the time. There is a sense of nostalgic virtue in the process of austerity that was a part of building a new Jerusalem. Some of that Jerusalem we now know failed to deliver but it is difficult to summon the same "dig for Britain" enthusiasm to restoring bankers' bonuses.
Of course the best things in life are free. Perhaps. So this weekend I will be enjoying some walks in the countryside, daydreams, conversation and (not free) beer.