Unmasking the English

Listening to Andrew Marr on Unmasking the English on Radio 4, I was struck by his comparison of Boris Johnson, well known political buffoon, and Mrs Marple.

Englishness, this Englishness, the Englishness of some “Brideshead” class of media professionals, is something he intriguingly dissects as a tactic. A strategising of communication, of self-depreciation – the appearance of stupidity masking some vainglorious superiority.

York’s astute analysis of Marpleism (the cult of the amateur / the obsession with the appearance of ‘effortlessness’) sees it at as a tendency in decline, a residue of post-war class politics.

I wonder about my own “Englishness” as I sit typing reports in a cold room in Prenzlauerberg.

“ It’s the upper sixth, you see? ” all those old stories about the unpractised, those that didn’t try too hard, or want it too much. The curse of the eccentric, like Banquo’s Ghost, hanging in the wings.

Next week Sir Walter Raleigh.