England that was

David and Len walking home across the Beet fields,

Constable could have painted them into that landscape. For every penny they earned, a pool of sweat on the ground. The 1950’s sun burning their necks, God help them, they didn’t know why they had to be there. Tied cottage, dead dark nights, candles burn low, the landlord young farmer said, “The electricity will be put on soon.”

Silent acceptance, dullness unsolved, creeping squalor.

What a privilege it was for me to know such men, working the harvest for the rich man’s purse. Blooming meadows that bent towards the sun on their way home, they were the heart of that Suffolk Empire of fields, feebly exhausted dragging themselves home.

They sleep now in this autumnal earth, where the bells of whispering miseries toll out for the England that was.

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