Alan Bennett on Identity

I read a lovely comment on group identity by Alan Bennett the other day.

6 April, Yorkshire. The new organic shop in the village continues to do well, the walk down the lane to the Nissen hut always a pleasure even in the bitterest weather…Today there are one or two customers in the shop. Everyone speaks, a little too readily for me sometimes, this friendliness engendered by the nature of the enterprise. It’s a kind of camaraderie biologique. In the same way, halted on my bike at traffic lights I will occasionally chat to another cyclist, cycling a similar undertaking with a creed and an agenda and its own esprit de corps de vĂ©los.

I read an interesting one yesterday. (I’d read it before at some point, and it’s possible that I’ve even typed it into here before, so if I’m repeating myself and you’re aware of it, then your memory is a lot better than mine, and I apologize for self-repetition.)

10 August. Appalling scenes on the Portsmouth housing estate which is conducting a witch hunt against suspected paedophiles and the nation is treated to the spectacle of a tatooed mother with a fag dangling from her lips and a baby in her arms proclaiming how concerned she is for her kiddies.

The joy of being a mob, particularly these days, is that it’s probably the first time the people on this estate have found common cause on anything; it’s the ‘community’ they’ve been told so much about and for the first time in their lives each day seems purposeful and exciting.

Just so.

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