This rather lovely literary arts magazine which is out bi-annually has published one of my short stories. I’m absolutely thrilled, not least because it is a beautiful publication with some wonderful, talented writers, but also, this piece, entitled Rule Britannia, is very close to my heart. It was inspired by one of my favourite authors, Daphne du Maurier, and a book she wrote in 1972 entitled Rule Britannia. Her book is set in an imagined near future where the UK’s recent withdrawal from the EEC brings the country to the brink of bankruptcy and leads to an American warship being stationed in a bay in Cornwall and marines marching over England’s fields.
Obviously, although written so long ago, this book is incredibly relevant to now. There is civil confusion and fear, economic and military failures on the continent have resulted in the UK and USA joining together as a single nation USUK; there are speeches by the Prime Minister speaking about ‘unknown agents hostile to USUK’; streams of American helicopters dominating the English skies and a general fear that leads the people of Cornwall to defend their land. It is, in many respects, so relevant to the here and now that it can be read as a very bleak and frightening novel. However, there is still a wonderful air of satire in the desperation, particularly amongst the perfectly named Mad and her large house in Cornwall with its many occupants.
For my piece, I set the large house in Devon, for obvious reasons for those who know me. I wanted to create not just the air of desperation but hope. In the near future of the lawless country that has dissolved into chaos and violence, I could imagine this place would always provide sanctuary. No matter what winds of change would come, this ancient house would withstand yet another threat and although under attack by roaming gangs, a society ungoverned and streets in the midst of civil violence, there is a sense that this will pass. It’s what attracts me to works by people such as Margaret Atwood, to great stories such as Day of the Triffids and 28 Days Later. It could so easily be tomorrow but however desperate the world is, there has to be a shred of hope for us to carry on with the story. The light lingers in the background with the idea that it might just all be all alright in the end. Let’s hope it is.
You can feel flush and buy a copy in either full colour or black and white or, I believe there is a very generous option to read it free online. I will not check your bookcases.