Arriving home after a couple of weeks away on holiday, we went through our post, which included The Week, dated 6th August. Its concluding article was written by Andrew Sullivan, whose 25-year absence from the UK had recently ended, prompting him to write something of a eulogy to the modern Britain he had discovered on his return:
The Great in Britain remains – right in front of you... Everyone is grumbling, but, if you will forgive a generalisation based purely on personal impressions, it seems a country that has come to terms with itself... like someone emerging from a midlife crisis into a rather comfortable second wind, one in which the illusions of grandeur have morphed into the modest pride of simply being who you are.The events that began in London on the same date as that article's publication rather contradicted this.
As Deb and I continued to sort out our new flat, we found that a previous tenant had left a copy of The Guardian, dated 3rd September 2007. In the Arts Comment section, Mark Ravenhill had written about Amy Winehouse. After declaring his own teetotalism, he went on:
I’m rather delighted she’s taking the drugs. Every culture needs a totemic figure who is prepared to go into the wilder terrain of substance usage, a place where the rest of us don’t want to or need to go... You do it, Amy, we need you to go there so we never have to do it ourselves.All of which made me think that what seems clear at the time may not be, and you should always be careful when choosing who to believe.