Whenever a Beethoven piano concerto with a prominent soloist appears on an orchestral program, it is likely to be the highlight of the evening. Yet concert protocol dictates that something more traditionally “substantial,” like a symphony, has to come last, with the piano concerto appearing before the intermission. And because the concerto is likely to be shorter than the symphony, something short generally has to be added up front to pad out the pre-intermission period.
After years of avoidance, on a whim I sprinkled a little onion powder into a frittata—a dish that, despite the sautéed onions, shallots, garlic, and scallions I folded in, never seemed to pack enough oomph. Or at least, it never used to. That frittata, with its full-bodied, lightly caramelized flavor, was delicious, but it made me a little sad. How arrogant I’d been to write off an ingredient that could boost flavor as profoundly as onion powder, simply because I had deemed it unworthy.
In Higgs’s view, the left’s infatuation with identity politics has “greatly strengthened” the rise of the populist right in Britain. The Labour party has emotionally disengaged from its traditional voters, who feel “belittled” when seen only in narrow terms of race, gender and sexuality. The British right, for its part, has appropriated another sort of identity: national identity, with its paraphernalia of flags, anthems and jingoist sing-alongs. In Watling Street, an exploration of modern Britain and what it means to be British today, Higgs offers a more nuanced understanding of the national psyche.
This book is a wakeup call, delivered calmly yet with no shortage of well-reasoned urgency, to a nation whose democratic traditions are being undermined by backroom dealing, deregulation, and the consolidation of corporate power. It's a chilling read, and a needed one.