Wednesday, 9 September 2009
Cider with Rosie.
There are some books that one has known about for years, seen reviewed and mentioned in passing countless times, but just never seem to get round to reading. Laurie Lee's Cider with Rosie was one such book until I picked up a copy a few days ago. It's a wonderful read of course. As an example of the craft of writing alone it stands out, but it is as a record of a lost rural way of life that it is most famous. A way of life that is lost, and I suspect was unlamented, by those who had to endure it. The Cotswolds of Laurie Lee's childhood was replaced eventually by a sterile landscape of second homes for the chattering classes but before we start to wring our hands about the passing of an idyllic, rustic lost age we would do well to remember that for many people the old days were one long round of poverty, ignorance, back breaking work and economic exploitation. The rural past might look attractive from the safe high ground of the London suburbs; less so from a tied cottage with a brood of kids to feed and a wife dying in childbirth.