Monday, 7 March 2011

Wider Reading | A Personal Letter From David Cameron To Silkworms Ink

Editors' note:

This morning we were all rather surprised by the arrival of six SAS men and their MI6 handlers, unannounced, landing in a helicopter on the roof of the Silkworms offices. Once we'd disarmed them and taken them prisoner, they soon explained to us that they'd actually intended to make contact with us in order to deliver a personal letter from the Prime Minister himself, Mr. David William Donald Cameron. Whether or not the author of said letter was really Mr. Cameron remains to be seen, especially as the SAS men turned out not to be SAS men at all but civil servants from the Ministry of Sound wearing camouflage and fluorescent headbands. Regardless, we felt it was our duty to print it as another exciting and traffic-encouraging chapter in Silkworms' history. Letter follows below.

Dear Editors,

I just wanted to express my delight at your ongoing series of musical mixtapes - and your site as a whole, by the way. Five young people going out there and blogging for themselves really is a symbol of what I mean to do with the Big Society - after all, people can't expect the government to go around blogging for them all the time. But let me make one thing quite clear.

I was delighted to see that the latest album from experimental artist PJ Harvey has been so thoroughly critically acclaimed and done so well in the charts - I have always been a fan of hers, I have always enjoyed her music, and I admire her as a Briton. I have listened to many of her songs over the years, and I particularly enjoy (just put in any of them APART FROM THE ONE ABOUT THE ABORTION IN THE WATER). In fact, I should like to point out that Let England Shake is itself a love letter to modern Conservatism. But let me make one thing quite clear.

The jaunty 'The Last Living Rose' stands out immediately as a fine example of Tory policy - the first lines, '"Goddamn Europeans!" representing our traditional Eurosceptism and our determination that Britain, modern Britain, must remain its own entity. We also see the paradox of Broken Britain and Britain the World Leader in those conflicting lines about "beautiful England" and "the filthiness of ages". We see concern for crime and alcoholism, so neatly encapsulated by "drunken beatings", and, most importantly, we see a rebuke towards the previous administration's valuation of our nation's gold reserves with those memorable lines, "gold hastily sold/for nothing". (Eagle-eared listeners may also spot a reference to Mr Brown's extended, unelected stay as PM in 'England', as she croons, 'people, they stagnate with time, like air'.) But let me make one thing quite clear.

Then, of course, the jangling title track, 'Let England Shake', refers to "Bobby" coming home to tell the narrator that indifference won. I see through Ms. Harvey's sense of truly British irony - she is in fact referencing the splendid victory of Conservative MP Robert Wilson in 2005 for the seat of Reading East - a by-election in which indifference most certainly did not win, in which it could never have won, because we live in a country like Britain that has belief in its politicians. But let me make one thing quite clear.

And then there's the running theme of 'war' throughout the album; a tone that all at once evokes dismay at the continued ill-treatment of our soldiers overseas, criticises the government that sent them into a war without ever doing so explicitly or without coming out and calling it 'illegal', as well as showing respect and honour to these brave men and women. It is not a confused response from the point of view of a singer-songwriter. And, obviously, neither is it a confused response from a nation's Conservative government. But let me make one thing quite clear.

This is not some shallow attempt to grab attention for oneself by invoking a subject which is currently very popular (neither, obviously, is this letter). Any on-the-nose qualities that might go with the territory of being a concept album that 'deals with' Modern Britain - particularly, I feel, that mention of "drunken beatings" and the entirety of 'The Words That Maketh Murder', apart from its killing final line - are cancelled out by the still, quiet simplicity of the heavily Eliot-influenced pronouncements and natural observations that conclude many of the tracks (and which sometimes make up the whole song - see 'In The Dark Places'). As Ms. Harvey intones on 'On Battleship Hill',

"Cruel nature has won again."

I do hope you see fit to publish this small article - and I hope many of your patriotic readers and audience overseas will come to see the essential, modern, engaged Conservatism of PJ Harvey's Let England Shake. I shall also be sending in a mixtape of the greatest songs by Nas (none of that Distant Relatives horseshit) and a collection of my own poetry, entitled 'Dave Speaks Out'. But let me make one thing quite clear.


David William Donald Cameron,
Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

1 comment:

  1. The police can't protest. Who will kettle the kettlers?