Wednesday, May 2, 2012


And the blanket of unmitigated grey has returned, with no hint of blue nor gold. I don't mind it much, really. In times of storm -- astonishingly, we've had a few recently -- I like to sit smugly and snugly in my room, sipping a cup of tea, giving fervent thanks that we (as a species) learnt the art of shelter-building. The contrast between the bourgeois, domestic interior of one's room and the almost primal raging of a storm outside has always struck me. I quite like the English grey, truth be told: it imparts a certain placid, unflappable calm (and here comes the cliche), reflecting the English character. It speaks of a reluctance to get worked up and excited over small things -- in short, a desire not to kick up a fuss. In fact, I think we should be wary of the perpetually golden and sunny places, for they often hide deeper, more horrible flaws. Those sunlit American locales -- like Disneyland in California, or Hollywood in general, for example -- are the most suspect. These places mix mindless, excitable optimism with an almost dystopian fantasy of paradise.  I am reminded of what George Clooney's character says at the start of The Descendants (2011):
My friends on the mainland think just because I leave in Hawaii, I live in paradise, like a permanent vacation. We're all just out here, sipping Mai Tais, shaking our hips, catching waves. Are they insane? Do they think we are immune to life? How can they possibly think our families are less screwed up, our cancers less fatal, our heartache less painful? ... Paradise? Paradise can go f*** itself. 
I think the English are taught their first lessons in 'realistic expectations'  when the first April showers come, when they have to make their way through a day of merciless, skyless, cloudful grey, when the winters become bitterer and when Indian summers turn out to be precisely just that. Americans never learn to moderate their expectations, and this why they're in such a mess. 

(I will return to Food and Memory in my next post, when I find the space -- and time -- to think.) 

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