Returning to England

19th June 2022 |

My partner Ann has lived in France all her adult life but she still switches to Radio 4 every morning, and so, like it or not, I am gradually drifting back into being British, combining breakfast with the bitterness of a Brexit hangover and taking some pleasure over the woes of Johnson. But I haven’t been there for almost three years. Mainly because of Covid, of course.

Now at last I can once more burst forth on England’s green and pleasant… and I won’t be coming by rubber boat to secure my free trip to Rwanda. I shall fly into Gatwick next Thursday and a chauffeur driven car will collect me, and whisk me to the revels at Ragley Hall, which my friend reminds me is usually pronounced Wagley Hall because of its long association with effete aristocrats.

I don’t think any of them will be there next weekend though. It’s all biker boys and girls and I hope they don’t rough me up too much.

I’m going to be cross-examined by Billy Ward and what’s left of me after that will be roasted over a camp fire the following morning.

But that’s not all. There are some people I am looking forward to meeting who also have a chauffeur driven car (you can see I’m not used to this luxury) and they are also going to whisk me to a pub at Cranleigh the following Tuesday where, having washed down a jolly good pub dinner under the eager gaze of a hundred invitees I shall have to sing for my supper.

I told them that I was going to read my book. No, not out loud. I actually haven’t really read it since I wrote it 45 years ago. I thought if I read it now I might be surprised, and it would be fun to talk about it. Well, you know I forgot what a bloody long book it is, and I’m hardly a quarter of the way in, but it IS surprising. And it does prompt some very interesting thoughts that I hope will keep me on my feet.

If I survive, there will be more whisking the next day, to the airport. I might see a bit of England through the car windows. I’ll tell you all about it next time. Slava Ukraina.