There is no coming to conclusions in England. Unless you fly young into unknown winds, you neither leave nor stay. I left in order to stay, went off to collect my thoughts in other continents only to retell stories (deceivingly, too, as if they were my own) at home.

On journeys, in strange landscapes, in other cultures, England can fade. Yet distances never seem quite great enough; and some moral imperative dictates engagements on local fields of battle.

When the ships were trumpeted to Port Stanley, the wish to leave pressed with new strength against the need to stay. People seemed to relive old styles of war. But as this mad nostalgia was turned to electoral credit, I thought: It is time to talk and think about what happens here, to write entirely from within this country. Travel encourages unchallenging descriptions. Simply to evoke England is to lose the argument. The sound of a fanfare, of a cricket bat striking the ball, of rivet guns in a shipyard, and too many minds fill with a sense of special Englishness. The images, even attacks upon ourselves, somehow bind us tight to our proper places.


Subterranean Gothic
Notes from Italy