No place like home
Quentin’s back, with a nice essay on what makes England special for him. “As I flew in to Heathrow yesterday”, he writes, “we came in on my favourite flight path, which goes right over the centre of London and affords spectacular views of the Thames, the Houses of Parliament, Tower Bridge etc. It wasn’t that view that made my heart skip a beat and showed me how glad I was to be back, though. It was shortly before, when I looked out of the window and saw the patchwork of irregular, small, odd-shaped fields with tree-lined public footpaths between them. I don’t know where it was. Warwickshire, probably. But it sure as hell ain’t America.”
I know just what he means. The view from a descending aircraft can be very evocative. I remember one morning in 1989 flying into Knock airport in Mayo (where I was born) and looking down at the rocky, boggy landscape and suddenly hearing in my head these lines of Seamus Heaney’s:
I come from the scraggy farm and moss,
Old patchworks that the pitch and toss
Of history has left disheveled.