The stately homes of England

By David Grima | Oct 10, 2019

“The road to hell is paved with good intentions” is an old saying full of a certain cold wisdom.

“So is the road to Cushing,” said Uncle Ed earlier this year, in a rueful summing up of the general condition of the highways out that way.

We are now happy to report that the road to Cushing has been restored to something of its former glory, and Uncle Ed says he now drives up and down to and from Rockland many times a day, in sheer delight at the smooth riding experience now available.

* * * * *

I recently heard a radio news broadcast about a film about a politician who used a high office as his own personal business, and engaged himself rather deeply with the company of far too many women.

At first I thought it had to be something about the life and times of our best beloved Lord President Reginald K. Trumpleton, but I was wrong. It was about Silvio Berlusconi, a certain former prime minister of Italy.

We can all breathe a sigh of relief.

* * * * *

Except that the Dear Lord Prez appears to have forgotten to take his meds, lately. Offering to obliterate the Turkish economy, and offering to buy the Ukraine, is exactly the sort of thing he is likely to say when his prescription has run out (again) and nobody has reminded him to refill it.

So fear not, dear people. Lord Trumpleton is not really as unreliable as he often sounds. It’s just a temporary chemical imbalance, aggravated, no doub,t by those Pesky Democrats, and we should have nothing to fear once he gets his genius stabilized again.

* * * * *

Speaking of Pesky Democrats, I have recently discovered a topical kind of candy for sale in downtown Rockland that goes by the name of Impeach Mints.

Not sure whose clever idea that is, but it is hardly helpful to our collective sense of National Pride in Lord Trumpleton and his several accomplishments.

Or perhaps that should be Accomplish Mints?

* * * * *

Certain close friends have been enthusing lately about a movie called “Downtown Alley,” or something like that, which features everyday experiences in the life of an ordinary English family of aristocrats. I also understand that my dear shut-in friend Terrible O’Meara (late of the Bangor Dreadful News) is a fan of the related British TV show, and has memorized entire seasons of it.

This is a great feat of memory for an old chap who often cannot find his slippers, or the feet that go in them. But there you go.

And I must say it’s a bit of a puzzle to me that the old boy would go positively gaga over such fluff and nonsense about the English. Is it not he who constantly accuses me and my ancestors of persecuting his Irish relatives by tying their shoelaces together in the dark? Not a word of truth in it, of course.

No, I can’t say this sort of stuff does much for me, as one soon tires of shows about Brits who all live in castles, and such. Ho-hum and Snore City, is my jaded response.

British writer Virginia Woolf sums up my general attitude rather nicely in my opinion, in one of her novels: “Those comfortably padded lunatic asylums which are known euphemistically as the stately homes of England.”

* * * * *

Speaking of stately homes, there is a nasty rumor going around the Lime City these days that it is now cheaper to find a rental apartment in Camden than here in Rockland.

If it proves to be so, then that is quite a turnout for the books.

* * * * *

The year 1969 now proves to have been a very rare thing, indeed, with the revelation, this week, of the third major world-shattering event that took place that year, the ultimate alignment of cultural genius half a century ago.

First it was the Moon Landing in July, followed later in the summer by Woodstock, a frolicsome festival of mud and music in upstate New York. Now it has been revealed that this October is the 50th anniversary of the "Monty Python" television show comedy sketch about a café that will let you eat anything you want, as long as it is Spam.

* * * * *

Mother used to cook Spam fritters for us young'uns' dinner, now and then. Slices of Spam dipped in batter and fried in a pan.

In fact (possibly overwhelmed with a foreshadowing premonition of absolute nostalgia) I tried to cook some myself recently, up here in the concrete towers at the foot of Mechanic Street, where I am forced to live. Only it didn’t go very well, and the cardboard box which I use for a kitchen slightly caught fire.

Very distressing.

* * * * *

I was among the crowds thronging the Congregational Church last Sunday afternoon, buying up copies of John Bird’s new history of the City We All Love, and waiting in line for him to sign them.

(Somebody with a master’s degree in event planning arranged for plates of delicious cookies to be placed alongside the people in the signing line. It took me three cookies and a half-cup of cider to get to the head of the line.)

Then it was off down the road to St. Bildad’s to watch a documentary movie, “Behold the Earth,” about evangelicals who are discovering that God created nature and actually expects us to look after it. It was most uplifting.

Evangelicals don’t get much good press these days. For example, a certain lack of wisdom is frequently attributed to them in their inexplicable adoration of Lord Prez Trumpleton and his Womanizing Ways.

But before I was an Episcopalian I, too, was an evangelical, and so have had greater hopes than most that an essential kind of decency would one day emerge from these folks among whom I grew up. I probably shouldn’t be saying any of this, as I am sure to mess it up. I am told I do that on a regular basis.

But it is still possible, this late in the day, for me to be artlessly stupid and yet quite sincere. I mean no offense.

And when one of the people in the movie, a Ph.D.. and an evangelical, said God is revealed to us both in the Book of Scripture and in the Book of Nature, and urged his fellows to open both and read, my poor heart fairly soared.

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Comments (3)
Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Oct 11, 2019 14:08

David: Tongue in cheek as usual and witty nonetheless. Whoops, I too am a native transplant, though from Boston at he ripe old age of 18 years young. Oh to be that young again!

Posted by: Eric Thurston | Oct 10, 2019 14:49 has told me that my DNA indicates that my ancestors were from the British Isles. They did not dare to specifically identify my roots; I assume because they did not want me to brag about my heritage, whatever it may be. I now can say I'm English, Irish, or Scottish, depending on which group is in vogue at the time. (I listed them in alphabetical order in a probably futile attempt not to offend anyone.) Coincidentally, I am reminded of a joke. All three were having tea when they discovered they each had a fly in their cup. The Englishman properly asked the waiter to replace it. The Irishman stated that it was no big deal, removed the fly with a spoon, and drank the tea. The Scotsman picked up the fly gently by its wings and said "Spit it out, Laddie, spit it out."

Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Oct 10, 2019 14:44

For  someone from away you certainly have been a blessing to us natives.   Whoops, I'm not a native. Didn't arrive here until eight months old.

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