London

Looking Forward

Twenty minutes later the Bakerloo Line delivered them into the icy cold of Trafalgar Square. In the distance, Big Ben. In the square, Nelson. Havelock. Napier. George IV. And then the National Gallery, back there near St. Martin’s. All the statues facing the clock.

“They do love their false icons in this country,” said Abdul-Colin, with his odd mix of gravity and satire, unmoved by the considerable New Year crowd who were presently spitting at, dancing round, and crawling over the many lumps of gray stone. “Now, will somebody please tell me: what is it about the English that makes them build their statues with their backs to their culture and their eyes on the time?” He paused to let the shivering KEVIN Brothers contemplate the rhetorical question.

“Because they look to their future to forget their past. Sometimes you almost feel sorry for them, you know?” he continued, turning full circle to look around at the inebriated crowd.

Zadie Smith, White Teeth, 1999

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