My primary school education in the early sixties in England was, I suppose, a kind of
brainwashing, in which I was easily convinced that all of us living on our tiny island were noble, wonderful and great. It is nice to live in a dream, provided you don't know that it is a dream.
Sadly, I am now more cynical, although I suppose I haven't totally shed my illusions - rather than deciding that the ideas I was fed never had any relation to reality, I still cherish the belief that in my youth an ideal existed that has since been eroded.
In this context, I found the thoughts of Tietjens, the main character in Ford Madox Ford's Parade's End, extremely appealing:
"In electing to be peculiarly English in habits and in as much of his temperament as he could control - for, though no man can choose the land of his birth or his ancestry, he can, if he have industry and determination, so watch over himself as materially to modify his automatic habits - Tietjens had quite advisedly and of set purpose adopted a habit of behaviour that he considered to be the best in the world for the normal life. If every day and all day long you chatter at high pitch and with the logic and lucidity of the Frenchman; if you shout in self-assertion, with your hat on your stomach, bowing from a stiff spine and by implication threaten all day long to shoot your interlocutor, like the Prussian; if you are as lachrymally emotional as the Italian, or as drily and epigrammatically imbecile over inessentials as the American, you will have a noisy, troublesome and thoughtless society without any of the surface calm that should distinguish the atmosphere of men when they are together. You will never have deep arm-chairs in which to sit for hours in clubs, thinking of nothing at all - or of the off-theory in bowling."
26 minutes ago