Itchen for fishing: Good fishing, books and beer remind us that not everything is awful (Patrick Galbraith, 7/11/24, The Critic)

What you’ve got to understand, he explained, as he sat at his desk — a desk which comes from the original Lutyens-designed Country Life office — is that most of the media in this country tells you why you’re wrong or why somebody else is. What Country Life does, he explained, is it makes people feel good about themselves. It sounds simple but Country Life is one of the only magazines in Britain that sees its profits jump year on year. As the world becomes more miserable, people seek it out more and more.

I like the dogs and the chalk streams and the literature and the food

I think, though, there’s something else going on too. We live in a period when everybody wants to talk Britain down. “Tell me”, a well-known novelist’s husband said to me recently at a book festival we were both speaking at, “about how awful it is to be a young person in Britain.” The thing is, I replied, I quite like it. I like the dogs and the chalk streams and the literature and the food. I like English cheese, pubs, and London in winter.

We walked back along the bank, each of us with our fish, then we sat in the pub in Twyford and had a beer. “What I think it is”, I said to Mark, is that Country Life provides an antidote to this bleak and self-fulfilling narrative that everything here is awful.

we yearn to be the heroes of our own narratives, which is made difficult be how affluent and peaceful modern life is. So we cosplay a drama that does not exist.