2 thoughts on “a suburban or dormitory dream

  1. Morag:
    We went to Raymond Williams’ home in Pandy, which is quite a scattered settlement along the main Abergavenny to Hereford road. His father worked for the railway and we eventually found his childhood home in this tightly packed huddle of cottages but you could just see the meanness of spirit where there were all these acres of land and scattered houses but the workers were all on top of each other. This little lion was by the doorway of his former home.

    Raymond Williams writes about people in the city, from Roman writers onwards, having this view of the city as being full of crime or business, where it’s quite stressful and a bit sordid in places but exciting and then, there’s this idea of your country retreat where you get away from it all and you can really relax and enjoy the countryside and the view. With his Marxist perspective, he compares the Black Mountains where he grew up with Cambridgeshire – from holly, red earth and mountains to flat fenland – but, he says the deeper contrast for him is the contrast between the countryside as you look at it and the underlying realities of working in the countryside and what people’s lives are: the relationship between the view and the reality of the countryside that’s lived in.

    In her book, Rural Modernity, Everyday Life and Visual Culture (2015), Rosemary Shirley introduces the ideas of David Lowenthal (1994), who identifies persistent narratives in the English countryside, including stability and artifice, which suggest that the countryside is there for people to enjoy and it’s got to be kept.


  2. Lisa:
    Keeping that preservation should be invisible. The labour that goes into it shouldn’t be visible or seen. One thing that struck me was that all these writers are talking about the amazing dream of it, the great architecture, the amazing food: it all seems to be existing out of thin air, it just comes and no one really talks about the actual people labouring to produce it. They are invisible.


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