Friday, January 20, 2012


This memoir of A.A. Milne (of Winnie the Pooh fame) makes me wonder if the mindset of the fat cat elite of 98 years ago was really any different to that of the fat cat elite of today.

"A.A. (Alan) Milne says in his autobiography that he would have liked to ignore the four years he spent in the army. 'I should like to put asterisks here, and then write 'It was in 1919 that I found myself once again a civilian.' For it makes me almost physically sick to think of that nightmare of mental and moral degradation, the war.' But of course the war cannot be ignored. In 1914, no one (reader, writer, or hero) can ignore history. Milne overheard hideous talk in the smoking-rooms of golf clubs and recorded it in the issue of Punch that came out the day after war was declared. 'What England wants,' someone said, leaning back and puffing at his cigar - he was, of course, himself well past military age - 'What England wants is a war. (Another whisky and soda, waiter.) We're getting flabby. All this pampering of the poor is playing the very deuce with the country. A bit of a scrap with a foreign power would do us all the good in the world.' He disposed of his whisky at a draught. 'We're flabby,' he repeated. 'The lower classes seem to have no discipline nowadays. We want a war to brace us up.'"

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1 comment:

Natasha Yar-Routh said...

On the basis of Milne's reporting I would say no, no difference at all in the views of the fat cats. The ranting about 'pampering of the poor' could come from any conservative columnist of today quite easily.