Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be, so they say. And as has been said rather a lot over the past year or so, harking back to an AE Houseman-tinted vision of the past is a dangerous – if tempting – habit. But what with Blowers announcing his retirement from Test Match Special, it’s hard not to conclude that civilisation has definitely peaked and we are for the dark.
Travel, for example, used to be a civilised thing as well as a civilising one. Whatever the colour of one’s passport, whatever one’s politics, air travel in particular was within living memory a fine, fun and carefree adventure. Nowadays, what with the stress and the having-to-get-undressed-and-be-x-rayed, one might as well stay at home as suffer the rank indignity of airport security. And when the mercury rises, the issue is compounded whether one is catching an aeroplane to Barbados or the Central Line to Bank: it’s a hellishly hot affair from which one emerges weak, dishevelled and, likely as not, ready to put a match to the whole of history and start over.
That, however, might be an overreaction.
Might we suggest that perhaps a lightweight cotton or linen jacket instead? So attired, keeping cool and keeping one’s cool are equally easy, allowing a gentleman to emerge from the inferno looking unruffled and feeling that, on second thoughts, perhaps the world is, as Hemingway had it, a fine place and worth fighting for.
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