Newbury, February 17th 2013
We strike out from Stamford at noon to watch the milky light angling onto to the extremely pretty undulating Rutland countryside. In spite of what you see from the van on most tours, England, with its cosy rustic beauty, is preserved in a great many places. Living in these areas might just turn you Tory, for modernity must seem a menace encroaching on all this pastoral glory. But we’re heading for Corby, that Scot infested industrial cauldron so normal service will be resumed. English and Scottish patriotism sow their seeds in the rural landscape. It’s a way of encapsulating a myth – the place maketh the people. As if a fucking heather covered hill has any bearing on most Scots’ character. Nationalists are great manipulators of imagery. They tell you that your inherent virtues are bound to your country’s natural beauty in order to parcel off power for themselves. It’s what the Americans have done with the Western – engendering patriotism by placing heroes in the monumental landscape. The British have Jane Austen adaptations and fucking Braveheart, a film – many Scots conveniently forget – made by an Australian Christian Nazi. Vote for me and I’ll set you free! Uh-huh. Free to be ruled by another stripe of twat – tartan, yes, but still a twat. If, as Oscar Wilde said, patriotism is the virtue of the vicious then nationalism is the vice of the vainglorious.
We arrive in Newbury which is new and understandably bypassed. New compared to Stamford which was essentially medieval. Our abode is a Hilton which hangs around the outskirts. It being a Saturday a wedding is in progress. Folk are in their finery. I look forward to witnessing their dishevelment upon our return. Weddings give off an intoxicating energy. They have a weird sort of sexual heat. The guests turn into pagans celebrating fecundity. I think the clothes are supposed to mask that – the virginal white dress and the buttoned up suits but the button-holes give it away. As Uncle Monty said: flowers are such tarts. Later there will be much cleavage, no doubt. And ruddy-faced young men eying up the market. As I sit using the free Wi-Fi in the lobby the bride arrives with little fanfare. She looks a mite disconsolate. Perhaps something has gone wrong already.
The venue is an arts centre way out of town on a hill beside a school for the deaf. The environs have a creepy mystery novel atmosphere. Crows roost high up on the bare black trees that bleed into the sky like spilt ink. It proves to be a gay show in spite of this, the audience standing packed against the stage which is always good. I can’t see them but I can feel them and that’s the main thing.
Back at the Hilton the wedding has run out of steam. A few ramshackle groups of guests hang around the entrance. The bride, in her evening outfit of mini-skirt and heels tows her drunken groom to say last goodbyes. The honeymoon has started with all the fizz of a glass of flat lager after a hopeless jamboree.
I slink off to my cell of amenities and watch some FA cup highlights in bed like a fat sultan of showbiz, pointing the remote to command all whom I survey.