Brexit (7)

Two further unrelated thoughts.

The first thing is that two people, who are themselves representatives of London’s über-rich, in recent months have said to me privately that they thought that there was bound to be a day of reckoning because of the increasingly huge discrepancy between rich and poor.   It looks likely that some form of reckoning may have to come out of the current turmoil.

The second is that the Brexiteers consist of an ultimately incompatible coalition between the right wing of the conservative party – free market, post-Thatcherite, anti-protectionist nationalists – and the heartlands of old Labour – pro-labour, anti-immigrant, anti-Blair nationalists.   The latter certainly won’t get what they want if the former are in power.

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Brexit (6)

I’ve been touched by the number of comments on my post yesterday, which was indeed no more than a sense that we need a period to reflect on the implications of what has happened.   I have been reading much more comment than usual:  a very good piece in yesterday’s Guardian by Ian Jack on the reasons for the alienation of the old working class in northern council estates;  and a piece sent by Otto SS by the admirable Cambridge historian Peter Mandler in an online magazine called Dissent (www.dissentmagazine.org/blog/britains-eu-problem-london-problem).   I recommend them.

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Brexit (5)

I’m afraid that I have suspended all normal transmissions while, like everyone, I am trying to get used to a post-referendum world in which it looks as if Boris Johnson may become Prime Minister and Scotland leave the Union.   I was asked by someone if there was any advice I could give or anything one could usefully do.   I haven’t the foggiest, except wait and see.   It’s unexpectedly stormy weather, which seems appropriate, and the garden is lit up in an intense afternoon light after the rain:-

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Brexit (4)

Oddly enough, I have been more troubled by the Vote to Leave in Wales than I have in England.   I keep thinking of Wales as it was in the mid-1970s when I first got to know it:  fiercely nationalistic, quite different from England, and poor.   It feels as if it has been developed very significantly through EU, as well as Whitehall, subsidy – made more prosperous, with new roads and infrastructure.   Now, it’s European, part of a much wider culture.   It has its own pavilion in the Venice Biennale.   What will happen ?  It’s a version of the issues for England, but somehow more extreme.   People think extreme nationalism can’t and won’t come back.   But it can.

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Brexit (3)

I suppose it would be irrational not to make some sort of comment on the results of the vote and on the mood of sombreness, in spite of the weather, in my morning walk across the park:  what it’s like to wake up and discover that, once again, the psephologists and great majority of political commentators have got their analysis wrong;  and that the Labour heartlands in the north of England and Wales have chosen to vote against the economic benefits of EU funding and the political benefits of collaboration in favour of the extreme uncertainty and potential political dangers, as well as the intolerance, of a vote for Independence.

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Charles Seymour, sixth Duke of Somerset

I have long been interested in the personality of the absurdly arrogant sixth Duke of Somerset, known as ‘the Proud Duke’, who was responsible for the construction of Petworth in the aftermath of the Glorious Revolution.   He inherited the title aged sixteen after his older brother was shot in Lerice;  he then travelled abroad with a tutor called Alexander de Resigade;  on his return, he married the widowed heiress to the Northumberland estates;  and by the time he was twenty four he was a Knight of the Garter.   It is not known who he employed as his architect at Petworth.   It’s fairly French in style, grandly reticent, probably by a Huguenot, possibly Daniel Marot, since Somerset moved in the grandest court circles and Marot was paid £20 by the Duke on 30 September 1693, as well as borrowing a book from his library.   Jeremiah Milles describes staying at Petworth in 1743.   The Duke ‘lived in a grand retirement peculier and agreable only to himself.   He comes down to breakfast at 8 of ye clock in ye morning in his full dress with his blue ribbon, after breakfast, he goes into his offices, scolds and bullies his servants and steward till dinner time, then very formally hands his Duchess downstairs’.   Not a very nice character.

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Petworth

Quite a treat to see the midsummer sun low over Capability Brown’s park in such a way that it was relatively easy to imagine how Turner might have experienced the view out of the bedroom window in the late 1820s.

The long, French, main façade without the original central low domed roof which would have accentuated the middle section:-

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