Monday 24 October 2016

Napoleon didn't win after all

From an interview I read a while back with Anthony Burgess from 1971, just before England joined the EEC. Now it seems Napoleon's victory was temporary.

I used to think that England might become just a place that liked to be visited—like that island in J. M. Barrie’s Mary Rose—but now I see that so many of the things worth seeing—old things—are disappearing so that England can become a huge Los Angeles, all motorways, getting about more important than actually getting anywhere. England is now going into Europe, not—as I had once expected and even hoped—America, and I think it will now have Europe’s faults without its virtues. The decimal coinage is a monstrosity, and soon there’ll be litres of beer, as in Nineteen Eighty-Four, and no cheap wine or caporal tobacco. Absorption, anyway, since England either has to absorb or be absorbed. Napoleon has won.

Of course we English never benefitted from cheap wine and smoking, banned in public enclosures, now costs a fortune. On the other hand, when England joined the EEC drinking wine was something most working-class and lower middle class families didn't do except on special occasions like Christmas. England has been Europeanised. The duvet invaded and took over, driving out sheets and blankets completely. Showers replaced baths. Sitting out in the street drinking cappuccinos became, as they now say, a thing, despite the weather. I much prefer this to Americanisation, the main theme of post-war English history.


  1. The shopkeepers are not English now...

    1. David in Banja Luka26 October 2016 at 15:22

      It depends where you shop ....