Thursday, 5 November 2009

New Forest thoughts

- once, here, I referred to "the Hallowe'en wall". I've regretted that turn of phrase ever since - back in the age I'm getting at, it was still all about Guy Fawkes Night in England - but it's too late to change it now, and anyway I'd mentioned bonfires earlier in the same post, and didn't really want to repeat myself. What may not have been apparent to the casual reader who doesn't know what I know all too well is that this is a real wall, always for me most evocative of wind-blown autumn landscapes, which runs alongside the road which leads Portlanders to Wimborne Minster, or indeed the New Forest, or anywhere else where the Wilson Plot once lurked. It gives the impression of being a distinct dividing line - obviously not on a par with the barrier that split Berlin and the world until 20 years ago this week, or even our own Cutteslowe Walls, but on one side - the side you're driving on - you feel you're part of the mass society, the society of buying and selling, of instant access, of something that resembles democratisation so tantalisingly that you can so easily forget it's the complete opposite. Behind the wall, you sense, strange things may happen, things beyond your knowledge, or your grasp, or your control. I know Charborough Park is a particular family's estate, but somehow I can't help thinking an M.R. James scenario may have happened there, once. In my head, it was the 1970s scene of paramilitary exercises: men rehearsed behind that wall, planning for the day they overthrew the unions and restored feudal supremacy, paranoid that within ten years detente would have quietly turned into something greater, something in which they had no place unless they fought back now. Even now, looking behind the gates has an eerie, disturbing feel: the sense of a never-admitted underbelly of the elite, an underhand, undying refusal of any form of democracy.

The fact that I will almost certainly have a scion of that very family claiming to represent me in Parliament precisely six months from now - the same family that produced five members of the unreformed pre-1832 House of Commons - makes it all the more disturbing: that whole tribe has reinvented itself in terms of mass media while nobody was looking, every bit as morally bankrupt as it ever was, and far more dangerous because they've learnt how to distance themselves from their past, Joss Stone's marketing tactics turned into politics.

- someone had written "civil right or civil war" on the sign leading into the forest: was this a leftover from the era, which seems so much longer ago than it is, when some, myself included, wildly predicted social implosion over foxhunting, a legacy of the age when the Shires could only put their hopes in same vague new GB75 on horseback? Or is it very now, very 2009, born out of a deeper, more profound sense of alienation from the entire system, which will elect the NuTories and vaguely tolerates even the BNP not because of who they are but because of who they are not? Or is it - as I suspect - somewhere between the two: a statement that, without instant and permanent withdrawal from the European Union and a stupid, ill-defined attempt to "reclaim" a country that long since ceased to exist, or even be able to exist, on its own terms, the NuTories will have betrayed those who most strongly believe in them, that a mere continuation of NuLab's vague halfway house will inspire a violent reaction among those so long and so wrongly believed to be inherently peaceable?

- you can still forget everything in a place like the New Forest, still imagine yourself in some parallel autumn, some battle for the future that ended wholly differently, some world that never really existed (because my vision isn't anti-modern at all, it's altermodern)

- I'm pretty much exclusively listening to 1Xtra music while I write these postings

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