3 thoughts on “Affording a Glimpse”

  1. Brilliant article James. Thanks for the link.

    I went on to read several other of his columns and then looked over his book Life at the Bottom, which covers the same territory. I was reading John Derbyshire’s review of the book when I ran across this:

    “American jaws drop when I say, in response to inquiries, how much I enjoy the comparative tranquillity, security and civility of life in the U.S.A. and the exquisite manners of Americans — especially in the South, the best-mannered large region in the English-speaking world.

    The older, tranquil England of the American imagination actually existed not long ago.”

    I heard virually these same words from a Brit I was working with several years back. He was child during WWII (he remembers the Germans bombing his street and killing his neighbors) and moved to the US in the 1970’s. He’s done quite well for himself and is retiring to a home he’s built in the Nevada desert.

    He had a fascinating life and was extremely well read and I liked him immensely. We’d have long talks about history and politics and his adventures on motorcycle trips through Europe in the 50’s.

    I had casually praised Tony Blair and he snorted in contempt, “Damned socialists have destroyed that country.” He then surprised the hell out me by comparing modern America to 1940’s era Britain. He was great believer in law and order, good manners (the lubricant that makes social interaction possible, he said) and self sufficiency. All of that has been lost by the British, he claimed. America is now more British than Britian. Of course, he meant the Britian he knew.

    By the way, the house he was building in Nevada, and which he designed as well, was quite the hacienda. “They used to say: you can’t go ten feet in a desert without tripping over an Englishman.” He was full of stuff like that. What a character.

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