One of the more irritating developments of the current unpleasantness (as Churchill might have described it) is learning how the beautiful people who write columns in the mainstream media – the Telegraph is the worst – are coping at home and pulling together. I know I should not look at this sort of stuff, but being by nature somewhat perverse, I cannot help it.
No swearing, no tantrums from their teenage kids, no computer game addictions, no alcohol, no frozen food, and, apparently, no queueing for food in the early hours. It’s all creative activities, old-fashioned boardgames, sharing the chores, cuddling the kids (who are desperately missing their ballet classes and active pursuits), and then cuddling the pets. Interspersed, naturally, with charitable acts in the village, conveniently close to London, but far enough removed to be quaint, picturesque, and, most importantly, demographically homogenous. The only blot, I hear, is that dear old Charles Moore can no longer get hold of organic free-range eggs from his local village store. Perhaps he should try Tesco.
This is all most admirable, except that I prefer people who wear their virtue and their family achievements more lightly. Which all comes down to good manners. Of course, I am envious too – and mindful that unlike socialists and liberals, conservatives ought to practise love not resentment. My own suburban family’s dysfunctional goings on would not make very good rose-tinted copy. A good morning for me is the rest of the family lazing in bed for as long as possible so that I can extract another golden hour of private study.
However, I can report one small triumph amidst the dross. Although the keyboard gathers dust, as do the board games, my youngest is spending considerable time drawing. I dredged out my old drawing guide the other day, composed by the wonderfully aptly named Jeffrey Camp, with inspirational foreword by David Hockney extolling the virtues of learning to draw and seeing through another artist’s eyes by copying. And to my amazement, my youngest spontaneously began to copy from it.
I doubt whether even the beautiful people of the Telegraph, brandishing their perfectly composed family lives and harmonious relationships, could conjure up that one.
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James Monteith: if I may be so bold: your meiosistic allusion –“the current unpleasantness”, is not Churchillian, but rather owes its provenance to the Daughters of the Confederacy who, I’m told, coined the phrase The Recent Unpleasantness in reference to the Civil War (U.S.).
That aside, I share your dyspeptic opinion of the human race.
The most beautiful family I ever came across were in Prague in the old days. Father doctor, intellectual and dissident, mother also active dissident, children completely unaffected and normal, all helping with the chores because they seemed to pick up, even at a young age, that their parents were involved in a struggle. No fancy after school classes, and no forced efforts to cultivate them. All in its own good time. I imagine they have turned out quite well. Though it must be said that the schools under the communists were bloody good.