I hate the man who stood back to back with me for the hour-long journey from Düsseldorf to Cologne. I didn’t see his face or his hands; I just felt his shoulder-blades and sometimes his elbows, when he explained something particularly keenly to his companion. He talked for the whole hour. His voice was quite impersonal–I would hardly recognize it again–and yet I hate him. I don’t wish him dead, but I would like to see him spend the next two hundred years listening only to his own voice, a gramophone recording of his own words, the ones he spoke from Dusseldorf to Cologne. First it was currency reform, and from there it was German efficiency, which has been suppressed because there was no currency reform. But it couldn’t be suppressed. No, nothing could suppress German efficiency and German workmanship. And German science and German soldiers. And the German armed forces and German confidence. And German toilet-seats. Nothing in the world could suppress all of that.
Ian Jack, Remembered
‘Ian was a gifted journalist and editor of immense common sense, and had an insatiable curiosity about the world around him. We will miss him.’
Editor of Granta, Sigrid Rausing, remembers Ian Jack.
The Stinky Ocean
‘It was a peculiar, alopecic landscape of hummocks and gullies, with patches of grass growing on what looked like white earth, and rarely a soul to be seen.’
Ian Jack on the slag heaps of Glasgow, and the aristocratic lives built on them.
Those Who Felt Differently
‘Could grief for one woman have caused all this? We were told so.’
Ian Jack in 1997 on the death of Diana.
The Best Picture He Ever Saw
‘Always and everywhere, this unequal struggle to preserve and remember.’
Ian Jack recalls the missing buildings of his hometown, Farnworth.
The 12.10 To Leeds
‘Outside wars and nuclear accidents, it is hard to think of any technological failure which has had such lasting and widespread effects.’
Ian Jack on the Hatfield train crash, from Granta 73.