am occasionally reminded where I come from: a drowsy little country town
in the East Midlands of England.
It was a lot drowsier when I was growing up there fifty-odd years ago. The only direct connection to the outside world was the railway
, and that was a branch line—an afterthought on the main London-to-Birmingham route. The A5 trunk road—the old Roman road from London to Wroxeter
—passed a few miles away, but didn`t much disturb the town`s tranquillity.
The last event of any national importance to happen in Northampton had been the flight of Thomas à Becket
from the town`s castle in A.D. 1164. Locals were still arguing about which route Becket had taken out of the town. The main annual event in mid-20th century Northampton was the ram fair. Try getting into town on a road you`re sharing with 300 sheep
Those locals were quiet, diffident people who accepted their mediocrity with a wry style of self-deprecating humor. You could (and for all I know, still can) buy bumper stickers saying SORRY! I`M FROM NORTHAMPTON. The town`s soccer team
was stuck resolutely in the Fourth Division.
Naturally I couldn`t wait to get out of the place, though I look back on it now with fond nostalgia. My very occasional visits home always leave me sad. Northampton was systematically wrecked from the 1960s on by rapacious “developers
” and mass immigration. It is now just a characterless multicultural blur.
I suppose it`s fogeyish to grumble, and no doubt today`s Northamptonians pursue happiness in their own way. Still, since the reigning narrative tells us that the past was a hell of patriarchy, colonialism, homophobia, racism, and social injustice, it does no harm to point out now and again that it really wasn`t so bad.
Well, here is the most recent
of Northampton`s rare appearances in the headlines. The town beauty queen has figured out how to lose weight: Eat less and more selectively, do regular exercise. By Northampton standards of intellection, this is up there with the General Theory of Relativity.
I note by the way while browsing the town newspaper that crime-reporting protocols
are now the same there as here.