Andrew Marr has turned his pen to writing history A History of Modern Britain ( Macmillan 2007). The pages are easy to turn – all 630 of them – as Marr energetically moves the reader through the decades since 1945. Marr is clever – a populist who can make connections and who is unafraid to draw conclusions. He wants to entertain and inform and succeeds with this reader!
So what is it a story about? The victory of shopping over politics? A new Jerusalem of a second Elizabethan Age? How a thin, religious, homogenous nation became fat, sceptical and diverse? Or how we all are defeated by a culture of celebrity, consumerism and self gratification?! Take your pick!!
Marr is a liberal and persuasive as he marches us through Atlee, the self destruction of Labour, the birth of the SDP, War ( lots of war), AIDS, Scargill and the miners, boom and bust in the city, privatisation and so on.
‘Always’ he writes ‘we have been a country on the edge’. And what are we on the edge of today I wonder?
We are a strange lot the British – hard to herd – unpredictable and full of undigested half truths – disatisified somehow with the shape of life? What’s our character ? Can we define it? Marr looks to other areas for this discussion – style, fashion, comedy, cars, anarchists, oil men and punks. Are we happier though – thats what I want to know? We are more individual and connected, but feel more isolated. Our children grow up too quickly. Religion is largely irrrelevant. We shop on Sundays. We take consolation from our large plasma television sets. But we search for something real – where do you find your reality?
Are we happier? Perhaps only the panel of Pop Idol or the X factor know!!