I just rediscovered this A. A. Gill piece arging for Remain, originally in The Sunday Times but I downloaded this copy from spoot-shoot - it deserves posting in its entirety because it really does nail it.
Thanks for posting this, really does nail it here, always loved Adrian Gill. I’m so happy to be away from the UK but still have family there and work there, so its not possible to simply turn my back on my home country. Brexit is a disgrace, a nation has been conned by the super rich and their stooges, racism has been given a green light. It will take many years to recover from this, if ever.
My local French community are the most delightful, charming, respectful people, it really is a delight to be here - but I feel so sorry for those who don’t have the possibility to leave what’s left of the UK behind
Welcome to SF, please can you ammend your profile to include your full name. Thanks
“There is a reason why the Chinese are making fake Italian handbags and the Italians aren’t making fake Chinese ones”
Still can’t believe he married Amber Rudd.
Or that his mum played Madame Peignoir in Fawlty Towers!
That’s one of the best articles I’ve read by AAG - thank you for posting it, @ptf
I have to admit that the first thoughts that come to mind are that organising Crusades to the Holy Land and attempting to exterminate millions of people because of their religion don’t exactly seem to form part of a “Golden civilisation” to me, but then perhaps that is because unlike Mr Gill I do not “feel more European than anything else”, which I suppose must make me a “strangely out-of-touch old git” in his view.
Oh well, I’ve been called much worse at times over the years so I shan’t lose any sleep over that.
He never did review my restaurant and I was always afraid that he would be cruel if he did
He was a little over excited as a critic and, although we offered a very high standard beware of
Depends on their mood.
Yes - it’s not so good on the real history, is it?
This is better (and much funnier):
Well don’t fret, the English have got pretty good form when it comes to Crusades (Richard 1 was king of England even if he rarely set foot there), pogroms (Henry II and Richard II expelling the Jews), and religious persecution (Henry VIII, Mary, Elizabeth I, Cromwell), so we can surely hold our heads up in the European hierarchy in that regard.
I accept that us English also have a chequered history.
My point is that the civilisation of mainland Europe is not quite so golden as Mr Gill would like us to believe.
Oh I think it’s quite permissible to cherry-pick the best bits, and we did create all that golden stuff as well. No culture or civilisation is going to be devoid of bloody and nasty bits, is it? And as a lament for things passing, Mr Gill’s evocation is quite moving, I think.
But his point, surely, is not so much that European culture and history are perfect but that we are inextricably linked with it (good or bad).
But it is in part a paeon to some kind of common European culture that is strangely symmetrical with a typical brexiter idealisation of Britishness.
Here is the Renaissance stripped of the rediscovery of Islamic science and mathematics that actually shaped it; Newton without Al Khwarizmi; Impressionism without Japanese print composition, Picasso without African tribal art, postmodernism without Derrida (who was Algerian); ‘the collective to and fro of European interests’ that makes great cuisine out of ‘ingredients… from around the world’ with no mention of slavery and colonialism…
I have my own love affair with Europe, and have spent enough time in its distant corners and outposts to identify with the feeling that there is some kind, some degree of common European heritage. But I also know that it’s necessary to temper this love with the knowledge that it is no more stain free than is the real history of ‘Great’ Britain, nor indeed are either European or British cultures finally separate from the rest of the world.
When Mr Gill uses the words “This collective culture, this golden civilisation grown on this continent over thousands of years, has made everything we have and everything we are, why would you not want to be part of it?” clearly he is in praise of that which he perceives as being European Culture.
Mr Gill is of course fully entitled to his opinion on the matter, but in my view, spending the first twelve paragraphs of his article belittling those that do not share his view in a manner and tone which can easily be taken as insulting, is hardly likely to bring about a change of mind in another person.
Seemingly Mr Gill is so ‘European’ in his outlook that he has forgotten that perhaps peculiar trait of the English, in that the more they are attacked with cheap remarks and snide comments, then the more steadfast in their resolve they tend to become.
Mr Gill’s overall point is quite clear, and he states it very plainly in the penultimate line of the article where he labels those who do not share his views as “old, philistine scared gits.”
Somehow I doubt that such a tack is exactly the best way to bring about a change of mind in another person.
AA Gill was a stylist using the English language to create
Often an unwelcome restaurant critic and a person who battled
with his gift of unique and some times devestating ways he could mock.
What’s most interesting, I think, is the way Gill’s conception of brexit leads to the tactical mistake of insulting and dismissing brexiters.
If brexit is conceived in terms of a ‘culture war’ - a matter of beliefs, opinions, taste, subjective life - each side ends up inevitably in the kind of slanging match we are all familiar with. And this misses the point: brexit was driven ultimately by real, practical and material interests - by the 40-year struggle of the disaster capitalists to ‘roll back the state’ and marketise every aspect of our lives, and by the very economic insecurity made the lot of millions in part by that very struggle.
Understanding the cry of ‘I want my country back’ as a refusal to accept the direction capitalism has taken in recent decades, as in fact a plea for a more stable and secure and caring society, still leads to the conclusion that many people went for the wrong solution - because the problem really lay more in the UK than the EU - but at least has the merit of not simply dismissing them as ignorant, or worse.
Plus - of course - a ‘culture war’ rather than engagement with economic realities was always what the brexiters wanted - played to their strength - and what the extreme right still wants to propagate in the UK now.
It has certainly become a culture war - try looking at Brexit twitter, to say they are ungracious winners is not even to scratch the surface of how much anti-EU and anti-Remainer hate is over there.
He is, yes - but as I said to focus on that is to miss the point that he makes about some of us recognising that we are inextricably European (and ultimately the same stock that occupies the Eurasian land mass as far east as India).
As I said - I’ll take the bad with the good as far as European (and British) history is concerned but everyone in the UK is either an immigrant or has ancestors who were immigrants right back to the time our forefathers (and, presumably, mothers) could walk over the land bridge, 10,000 years ago.