This book is a tie-in to a BBC programme made to “celebrate” the 50th anniversary of J.B. Priestly’s English Journey. Bainbridge’s version is sub-titled “Being a rambling but truthful account of what one person saw and heard and felt and felt during a journey through England”, which I suspect is also a “rip-off” of Priestly. I found my copy – a first edition in dust jacket – in a shop in Wigtown, for the princely sum of £2. It has the inscription “FROM BERYL”, to which the shop-owner has noted, in pencil, “(probably not the author)”, and I tend to agree. Still, it was a good buy.
The account is certainly rambling. Bainbridge uses a language that is very reminicent of a diary, especially in leaving out the subject in many sentences (as in “Went to Milton Keynes” rather than “I went…” or “We went”). It might not suit everyone, but I like it. It is also, in many ways, a sort of summing up of all the things that are not wonderful or terrible about England, but that are not ordinary either. For an anglophile like me it’s a lovely read, though I must admit it’s made me rather “homesick”.
And I like her conclusion, such as it is.
I suppose I’ll have to get hold of Priestly, now (though not on ABE just now – they only have one copy listed, and it’s at 50 dollars, which seems unecessarily steep for a whim – you can find lots of Bainbridges, though, if you don’t happen to have one already).