The Great Auk

Julian Barnes on Ford Maddox Ford, in the Guardian and also the introduction to the Penguin 2012 edition of Parade’s End I happened to have home.

Ford enthusiasts are ever in the minority and ever undeterred. To be a Fordite is rather like being a member of one of those volunteer groups who help restore Britain’s canal system. You run into them, muddy and sweaty, spending their Sunday afternoons digging out some long-disused arm which once brought important goods to and from, say, Wendover. You are fairly sure that they are doing a good thing, but unless you jump down and get muddy yourself, the virtue of the task, indeed of the whole canal system, might well escape you.

I took Parade’s End from the shelf this morning after reading this good article where Downton Abbey is called an escapist fantasy, National Trust nostalgia […] history scrubbed clean.

Well of course it is. Just like Call the Midwife is a well-meaning but still aribrushed celebration of NHS.

When I was very young I used to believe everything on tv was fake. One night my mother complained about something someone was saying on tv and I told her “don’t worry, he doesn’t exist anyway”. I was four and nobody had informed me about state-of-the-art cgi still being somehow tentative. My mother was dumbfounded and she proceed to explain to me that some things on tv were fake, like cartoons, while others were actually real, like people in the news. I didn’t really believe her and anyway, telling one from the other was tricky, so I decided it was safer to assume that is was all fake (today I call it edited, directed), excepts actors who were actually real people but still acting. I hear some people think exactly the opposite, everything on tv is real or must attempt to be as real as possible, and sometimes they do have a point. But I still believe tv and cinema are an excellent exercise for developing our sense of discernment and independent thinking, especially fiction.

Trust no one.

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