Friday, September 29, 2006

Ballard on Ballardian

Over at Ballardian, Simon Sellars has just published the results of his interview with the big man himself. With a little background research and question suggestions from myself, I modestly add.

It's a great interview - steering clear of the Shepperton/ironic suburbanism/Shanghai childhood tropes recycled by every newspaper and TV profile, while avoiding the fannish trivia that emerges when, say, broadsheet hacks of a certain age interview Bob Dylan.

There's even a surprising divergence into economic history, in response to a question about whether the obscure English pride in its 'world-class hooligans' (something relevant to the themes of Kingdom Come) is a response to the loss of Empire -
I’m not sure it has anything to do with that. The British Empire was lost a long time ago, and most British people didn’t benefit directly from Empire. In fact, there are economic historians who claim we made a loss from the British Empire — that it cost more than we gained from it. Most British people didn’t share in the Empire at all, and I don’t think the loss of all these possessions scattered around the world was a tragedy for the British. It was probably a relief when it collapsed.
‘British Imperialism: Innovation and Expansion’ by PJ Cain and AG Hopkins (Longman, 1993) is the definitive text on that subject - always knew that 'Development of the British Economy' course would come in useful...

Simon also asks Ballard about his political leanings, something that causes irregular outbursts of bullshitting over on the JGB email group:
You once said you were becoming more left-wing as you got older. Does that still fit?
I think it probably does, actually. I don’t know about Australia — it strikes me as a pretty wonderful place, from everything I’ve read about it — but here, the gap between rich and poor is widening to such an extent that, particularly in London, it’s begun to shift the whole demographic. The middle class, the people who sustain modern society — the nurses, junior doctors, teachers, civil servants and so on — are being forced out because vast sums of money are pouring into the housing market and distorting it. Gated communities are springing up everywhere, and the moment they can, people are opting for private medicine, private teaching, private hospitals — cutting themselves off from the rest of society, and that’s not a healthy development. One thing I’ve always liked about America, and I think it’s probably true of Australia, is that the children of well-to-do people and the children of people on modest incomes go to the same schools. I think that’s good. It’s not true over here and that’s bad! A class-ridden society with huge divisions — that’s bad. Something ought to be done about it, but I’ll leave that to another generation.



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