The rich live in another Britain, a magical country, a Narnia, a Middle Earth, and they sneer at us for wanting to live there too.
I’ve walked the Pennine Way as a boy, I’ve walked in Scotland and the South Downs and it always surprises me. There are so few trees.
‘They keep it that way, the landowners’, said Pete. ‘The animals graze it. The land is bare of trees so that the wealthy who control it can shoot grouse.’
There was a plan mooted a few years ago to create a great forest of the north across that thin little chicken’s neck of English land between Morcambe and Scarborough.
John Clare that great avatar of the English countryside went mad with grief after the powerful were allowed to enclose all the common land around his village and he couldn’t walk through it freely any more.
Remembrances by John Clare
Summer pleasures they are gone like to visions every one
And the cloudy days of autumn and of winter cometh on
I tried to call them back but unbidden they are gone
Far away from heart and eye and for ever far away
Dear heart and can it be that such raptures meet decay
I thought them all eternal when by Langley Bush I lay
I thought them joys eternal when I used to shout and play
On its bank at ‘clink and bandy’ ‘chock’ and ‘taw’ and
Where silence sitteth now on the wild heath as her own
Like a ruin of the past all alone
When I used to lie and sing by old eastwells boiling spring
When I used to tie the willow boughs together for a ‘swing’
And fish with crooked pins and thread and never catch a
With heart just like a feather- now as heavy as a stone
When beneath old lea close oak I the bottom branches broke
To make our harvest cart like so many working folk
And then to cut a straw at the brook to have a soak
O I never dreamed of parting or that trouble had a sting
Or that pleasures like a flock of birds would ever take to
Leaving nothing but a little naked spring
When jumping time away on old cross berry way
And eating awes like sugar plumbs ere they had lost the may
And skipping like a leveret before the peep of day
On the rolly polly up and downs of pleasant swordy well
When in round oaks narrow lane as the south got black again
We sought the hollow ash that was shelter from the rain
With our pockets full of peas we had stolen from the grain
How delicious was the dinner time on such a showry day
O words are poor receipts for what time hath stole away
The ancient pulpit trees and the play
When for school oer ‘little field’ with its brook and wooden
Where I swaggered like a man though I was not half so big
While I held my little plough though twas but a willow twig
And drove my team along made of nothing but a name
‘Gee hep’ and ‘hoit’ and ‘woi’- O I never call to mind
These pleasant names of places but I leave a sigh behind
While I see the little mouldywharps hang sweeing to the wind
On the only aged willow that in all the field remains
And nature hides her face where theyre sweeing in their
And in a silent murmuring complains
Here was commons for the hills where they seek for
Though every commons gone and though traps are set to kill
The little homeless miners- O it turns my bosom chill
When I think of old ‘sneap green’ puddocks nook and hilly
Where bramble bushes grew and the daisy gemmed in dew
And the hills of silken grass like to cushions to the view
When we threw the pissmire crumbs when we’s nothing
else to do
All leveled like a desert by the never weary plough
All vanished like the sun where that cloud is passing now
All settled here for ever on its brow
I never thought that joys would run away from boys
Or that boys would change their minds and forsake such
But alack I never dreamed that the world had other toys
To petrify first feelings like the fable into stone
Till I found the pleasure past and a winter come at last
Then the fields were sudden bare and the sky got overcast
And boyhoods pleasing haunts like a blossom in the blast
Was shrivelled to a withered weed and trampled down and
Till vanished was the morning spring and set that summer
And winter fought her battle strife and won
By Langley bush I roam but the bush hath left its hill
On cowper green I stray tis a desert strange and chill
And spreading lea close oak ere decay had penned its will
To the axe of the spoiler and self interest fell a prey
And cross berry way and old round oaks narrow lane
With its hollow trees like pulpits I shall never see again
Inclosure like a Buonaparte let not a thing remain
It levelled every bush and tree and levelled every hill
And hung the moles for traitors – though the brook is
It runs a naked brook cold and chill
O had I known as then joy had left the paths of men
I had watched her night and day besure and never slept agen
And when she turned to go O I’d caught her mantle then
And wooed her like a lover by my lonely side to stay
Aye knelt and worshipped on as love in beautys bower
And clung upon her smiles as a bee upon her flower
And gave her heart my poesys all cropt in a sunny hour
As keepsakes and pledges to fade away
But love never heeded to treasure up the may
So it went the comon road with decay.
Try singing as you walk on stolen land
Try singing as you walk on stolen land, you will soon be warned off as a poacher or a trespasser. It feels wrong to sing on stolen land anyway.
The British people trespass in their own land. They pay for the water that falls from the sky and runs in the rivers and streams, they breathe the dirt of the rich that floats in the air. Ordinary British people are stuck in concrete city cages like Palestinians in Gaza, like Jews in Prague, while the rich live in another England that is so different.
The rich live in Narnia, in a magical country, a Middle Earth. And the rich sneer at the rest of us for wanting to live there too and daring to dream that it might one day be ours. Think of all those churches and cathedrals, and the great houses that ordinary workmen built that the billionaires live in.
The British people trespass in their own land.
Schools of the extremely wealthy are hidden in the countryside or behind ramparts. Only the elite – who grow tall as blood drinking Masai – attend.
Not even the simple, upper middle class can afford to join the establishment and go to these schools. A salary of 200,000 pounds a year isn’t enough. You might as well run at a wall on platform 9 1/2. You won’t get in.
Yes, Hogwarts-ish places exists to educate and pamper children and teach them entitlement, but not your children. Good private schools are not for the ordinary parents of ordinary children. Who can afford to pay 40,000 pounds per child per year? The ruling class can.
you might as well run at a wall on platform 9 1/2
Our green and pleasant British Narnia exists, but it has been enclosed. We are only allowed onto those bits of it called national parks; to ramble through sections of it on narrow paths, squeezed between trees and hedges that block out the view. There are barbed wire fences hidden in the hedges. The working class Ramblers association fought for out right to roam.
Our Narnia exists. It has been enclosed and we are only allowed on to those bits of it called national parks and to ramble through sections of it on narrow paths
Who are these people, our deadly enemies, these monsters that have locked us out of our own inheritance and demand that we worship them like Gods?
They demand that we worship the monarchy as if it were divine. Who are they? God save the queen indeed. As if she were a deity.
They are the children’s children of the same people who went to Australia, wiped out the Dodo and other animals and almost exterminated the aborigines. They purposed a whole continent as their prison.
Who are these people, our deadly enemies, these monsters that lock us out of our own inheritance and demand that we worship them like Gods?
They are the children’s children of same people who went to North America and wiped out the Buffalo and started the extermination of the indigenous people there. An extermination the independent colonialists carried through almost to the terminus.
Who are these people? Oh, their crimes are so huge they are unencompassable by an innocent mind. There isn’t even time to talk about what they did to India, to China and to Latin America, these bastard pirates.
These are the people who stole huge parts of the continent of Africa and plundered it of precious metals and who used it to grow their morning coffee, afternoon tea, after dinner tobacco and nighttime cocoa.
And while the upper class disappear into their English Rivendell the poor burn to death in their British Grenfell.
The people lost their fertile land in Kenya, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, Nigeria, Ghana and many other places, to the British ruling class and ended up as serfs working the very lands they used to own.
Oh, their crimes are so huge they are unencompassable by an innocent mind.
These are the people who enslaved over 6 million Africans and took them to plantations in the Caribbean and the Americas where they worked them to death. The weak ones they threw overboard to drown. These are the people who sent children to work down the mines for 14 hours a day, or to work with dangerous spinning machinery, paying them only a few pennies as wage slaves in the north of England.
To this day. These are the people who sell weapons to kill children and who continue to destabilise whole countries; who sell houses off in London as investments to money laundering criminals while they keep you in expensive rented accommodation, while they keep your wages at a bare minimum. These are the bastards who drip feed you the poison of acquiescence through your second skins, through newspapers the TV, movies and the Internet.
So many writers have tried to warn you, to explain to you where you are and who stops us from reaching our Jerusalem
So many writers have tried to warn you, to explain to you where you are and who stops us from reaching our Jerusalem. They have tried to explain just how evil your rulers are, how they are your enemy. Writers have attempted to describe the alternate reality of England, of a Great Britain you will never inhabit, though it exists. Some of you still don’t understand. It is not myth or fantasy.
The ruling class may not actually be reptiles, or aliens – only very stupid people think such things – but morally speaking, they are monsters and, metaphorically speaking, they are vampires, they were members of the Hellfire club, they are Dorian Grey, they are Mr. Hyde, they are the Bullingdon Club. They were the inspiration for the Gestapo.
Meet the British ruling class. Oscar Wilde was a socialist. He was trying to tell you something about the people who rule your lives.
The people talk about hating the Tories are cowards. What they really mean is that they hate the British ruling class
The land will only be free again when it is free of them absolutely. The people who talk about hating the Tories are cowards. What they really mean is that they hate the British ruling class.
Occasionally, the reputations of fringe parvenus, like Philip Green, are sacrificed to the mob in a painless media ritual – he gets to keep his wealth.
Mysteriously, the ruling class have hidden themselves so well in this populated country that they have become almost mythical, like elves. They have places to disappear to. Some people even laugh at you when you claim they exist. It’s a clever trick, isn’t it? This blending in of the ruling class.
And while the upper class disappear into their Rivendell the poor burn to death in Grenfell. We know what happened. We know why those people died in Grenfell tower. We know that those responsible will not be punished and we know why.
Think of the destruction of living standards, the lack of affordable housing, the Iraq war, and the erosion of the social victories of 1948 that benefitted everyone and not just a few; and we know who outsourcing serves. We know about Boris’s crony capitalism and about just how much of a pushover the ruling class think we are.
The ruling class have hidden themselves so well in this populated country that they have become mythical, like elves. Some people even laugh at you when you claim there is one. It’s a clever trick.
What one historian said was that when revolutions got started they quickly escalated and got bloodier and bloodier and bloodier.
One of the reasons for this is that those those of us who are idealists underestimate the seething volcanic resentment of the poor. Those of us who try to be nice, who put ourselves in one way or another in the forefront of fighting for the land and its wealth to be given back to the people, underestimate the hatred that builds up with each fresh injustice. With the Windrush scandal, for example. We might want to stop the revenge once the ball gets rolling, but we won’t be able to stop it.
We underestimate the seething volcanic resentment that builds up with each new injustice.
And when that deep, deep resentment bursts finally it will not do so with a little pop but with a colossal bang, with a nuclear explosion; and then the forest that will line the hills and valleys between Morcambe and Scarborough will be far more likely to be a forest of the dead than a forest of trees: our ruling class and their loyal lackeys hanging from posts.
Phil Hall is a university lecturer. He is a committed socialist and humanitarian. Phil was born in South Africa where his parents were in the ANC. There, his mother was imprisoned and his father was the first journalist from a national paper to be banned. Phil grew up in East Africa and settled in Kingston-upon-Thames. He has also lived and worked in the Ukraine, Spain, Mexico, Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi. Phil has blogged for the Guardian, the Morning Star and several other publications and he has written stories for The London Magazine. He started Ars Notoria in May 2020.