A Fine Whine

The Dome, the Eye, and the Fate of England

Dear Sarah,

I’m slightly frustrated by your letter because you didn’t give me your own impressions of the Dome, just as you complained to me the other day that I didn’t tell you what I personally thought about the monarchy. But I was able to reply later, while I will never know what you think about the Dome because this correspondence is now at an end. I suspect that you were too entranced by M. Gerbeau with his Franco-American English accent to concentrate on anything else.

The visitors were angry with the press, you say, not only because everybody in England is always angry with the press but specifically because the press has been unfair about the Dome. But you don’t even say whether the visitors liked it. I will clearly have to go there myself. The visitors, though, were being unfair to the press in their turn. They found it disgusting, you say, “that the newspapers have been so vicious about the Dome, one day reporting that it is too crowded, the next day that it isn’t crowded enough”. In fact, the press’s main complaint is that there have been huge queues even though there haven’t been nearly enough people there to make the thing succeed.

I don’t suppose that the readers of Slate care very much about the Dome, but that is their problem. We are only interested in what interests each other. It seems to me that this gigantic project is symbolic of a very uneasy England that still does not know what it wants to be. The French are French. The Germans are Germans. But the English have become a strange mid-Atlantic people, torn between two great continents. The Dome represents their longing to be bold in the American manner, the London Eye their cosy European roots. We had better sort it out one day. In the meantime, I am really sorry to be saying goodbye. It has been great fun corresponding with you.

Love from Alexander xxxxxxx