Arnon Grunberg



On the weather and cricket - Jörg Schindler in der Spiegel:

‘When I returned at the beginning of 2017, around a quarter-century later, this time to London, we were all a little lost – the British and me. The British, because they had just voted themselves out of the European Union and now knew what they didn’t want to be, but had no idea what they wanted to be instead. Other than free. And me, because I hadn’t fully realized that London is a far cry from Berlin. Which is fine if you’re crossing a crosswalk, for example, or heading into a pub as a foreigner. But it’s not quite as convenient if you’re trying to rent an apartment or open a bank account. The one is only available if you have the other. And vice versa. And that is just one of the many mysteries that these somewhat eccentric islanders in the northeast Atlantic pose.’


‘For the first time in many years, many Britons are beginning to hope in this election year that the careening craziness is finally running out of steam and that they can return to the unofficial national mantra: Keep calm and carry on.’


‘At a time when Brexit was dividing the country, politicians were taking an axe to the constitutional order, lies were becoming socially acceptable and war had returned as a reality, the Queen offered solace. Those who were afraid of the future, let alone the present, were less lost thanks to the woman who took no political sides her entire life long.’


‘When Rishi Sunak visited Blackpool last year, one of the most run-down cities in the land, construction workers are said to have fixed the worst potholes just before the prime minister's limousine drove past. It reminded me of the "protocol route" through East Berlin, along which East German communist ruler Erich Honecker was regularly driven on his way from Wandlitz to the State Council Building.’


‘And yes, I know I talk a lot about the weather. But anyone who lives here and doesn't do so will remain an outsider.’


‘But the obvious conflict was always with the Scots, says Sharman, who displays his membership in the "Most Excellent Order of the British Empire" on his lapel. It was actually the medieval conflict over Berwick that brought the clans in the north closer together. "We English are great nation-builders," he says with more than a hint of irony. "First we conquer entire countries, then the conquered people come together and end up throwing us out. It worked well in India and elsewhere."’


‘How do you describe what has happened in and to British politics in recent years. Let's put it this way: It’s been anything but boring. And perhaps it is worth sparing a thought at this point for members of a professional group that have had a rough time of it lately: Satirists and stand-up comedians. They have been forced to stand helplessly by as the British political establishment essentially coopted their jobs. How were they supposed to top the lockdown drinking binges at Downing Street? And what about Johnson's excuse that no one ever told him that the boozy encounters in his office weren't actually work meetings.’


‘But perhaps this eccentric kingdom could only have become what it is because of that serenity and its admirable ability to treat everything and everyone with humor. Into a country whose national sport of cricket can last five days or even longer, during which fairly little actually happens, which doesn’t seem to bother the crowd in the least.’


‘It's a quote that pops into my mind just before I reach the 462-meter summit of Win Hill, which locals refer to as "the pimple.” When I arrive, I turn around. What can I say? Lose Hill across the way may be 14 meters taller. But despite that, the view from up here is magnificent.’

Read the article here.

What a magnificent article, what else do we need to know about the UK and its inhabitants.

What else is there to talk about? The weather.

And a game of cricket that lasts five days, of course, less excitement if possible.

The queen, well now the king, as the last source of comfort.

And then Win Hill and Lose Hill.

Yes, I’ll make my pilgrimage to these hills.

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