I have a strange (according to Rupert) and enduring love of England, and more specifically an England that I suspect no longer exists.
It is an England full of nice middle-class people drinking tea on lush lawns and playing tennis as the sun sets while someone mixes the Pimm’s and everyone behaves like they’re in a PG Wodehouse book. It is an England that you probably only see in films like Howard’s End. But nonetheless I get a glimpse of it every now and again and I am filled with longing to be there.
I had a tearful and terrible longing on Friday as I watched the Household Cavalry perform the famous Musical Ride. The music was emotive; I vow to thee, my country; the Black Beauty theme; Land of Hope and Glory. The Horses and men in perfect synchrony and the buckles all so shiny you could have plucked your eyebrows in them. I was unaccountably happy that the children were witnessing this. Even if it broke my heart that they knew none of the words to any of the songs.
The other thing that is heartbreaking is that much in the same way that I have a terribly romantic view of Blighty, they have a rose-coloured view of France. Everything that is bad here is followed by a “that wouldn’t happen in France”, every time any holidays are discussed all the talk is of going back to Sainte Cecile.
I wonder if this is a symptom of any child taken from a country at an early age? And I also wonder if by the time they grow up, the France they long for will still exist?
Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2009