The default setting of England is anger. The English are naturally congenitally collectively and singularly livid much of the time. In between the incoherent bellowing of the terraces and the pursed rigid eye-rolling of the commuter carriage they reach the end of their tethers and the thin end of their wedges.
Perhaps aware that theyre living on top of a keg of fulminating fury the English have throughout their history come up with hundreds of ingenious and bizarre ways to diffuse anger or transform it into something benign. Good manners and queues roundabouts and garden sheds and almost every game ever invented from tennis to bridge. Theyve built things discovered stuff made puddings written hymns and novels and for people who dont like to talk much they have come up with the most minutely nuanced and replete language ever spoken - just so therell be no misunderstandings.
The English itch inside their own skins. They feel foreign in their own country and run naked through their own heads. They are often admirable but rarely loveable. An Englishmans greatest achievement is in resisting his national inclination to go tonto with an axe in a cul-de-sac. This book hunts down the causes and the results of being the Angry Island.