by Alan Bickley
Last summer, I went with my wife and daughter on holiday to Shropshire. While there, we spent an afternoon in Ironbridge. This has as good a claim as any to being the place where the Industrial Revolution began. It was close by here that, in 1710, Abraham Darby found how to smelt iron in a blast furnace powered by coke. It was here that, in 1779, his grandson caused the first bridge to be made from prefabricated parts of cast iron. A quarter of a millennium ago, the whole district was under a perpetual darkness of coal smoke, lit only by the flames of the ironworks. If the winds blew powerfully enough, a blackened landscape came in sight – a landscape shaped by deep gashes into the bowels of the Earth, from which any reasonable man could suppose we were tearing the means to lift us from the slime of our origins all the way to the stars.
When I was there in the July of 2021, the industry was long departed. The main colour was green. The buildings had been scrubbed an anaemic yellow. And the people – oh the people! Various ages, but all with the loud, braying voices of ownership; filling up the socially-distanced seats outside the coffee shop nearest the Bridge, and sipping with learned delicacy at their skinny Earl Grey lattes. Inside the shop, I had gained one or two disapproving stares when I specified that I wanted my coffee in paper cups with plastic lids. Bearing in mind the nature of their conversations, I could have glared at them. Instead, I stopped half-way across the Bridge, and stared back at them. Sour dislike turned at once to loathing. Where was that Virus? Why, after eighteen months of hysterical outpourings from the régime media, was every street in the Home Counties not filled with their shrivelled, mouldering corpses? Instead of that, the parasitic wing of the English bourgeoisie was out in force that day, triumphing in one of the many places from which it had helped beat back the future.
Categories: Economics/Class Relations