Monday, 27 January 2014
Where is today's English Journey?
For me, reading JB Priestley's English Journey has always been a bit like decorating the hall, seems like a good idea but I just never get round to it. Well the hall remains as scratty as ever but I have finally got a copy of what Priestley described as, "being a rambling but truthful account of what one man saw and heard and felt and thought during a journey through England during the autumn of the year 1933." It's a wonderful celebration of England and English working folk written during hard times when there seemed little to be pleased about. Priestley had been through the First World War and in the year that Hitler came to power could have had few illusions about what the future had in store. But the book remains an incredibly optimistic one. Priestley beams out at us from the pages. An avuncular figure who never seems to doubt for a moment the potential of ordinary people to stand together and build a bright socialist future. Today, in a world where talk of a 50p in the pound tax on the very rich is considered radical, I find it difficult to imagine a JB Priestley for our time.