Let’s say you want to feel the national psyche. Viscerally feel it as opposed to rationally deconstruct it. Let’s say the nation is England, which has reached this point between the Jubilee and Olympics, and which claims to no longer to know itself, yet still somehow wields more pull on our own national psyche than any clear-thinking Canadian wants to admit.
Also, let’s say you only have 45 minutes to get this visceral feeling. So focus groups and phone surveys—all the usual methods—are out of the question. You don’t have time to read the current Granta. PJ Harvey’s Let England Shake might give you the illusion of having endured the glory and tragedy and monotony of the past century—for reasons you can’t explain, you’ll find yourself using words like bloke and geeza as you ruin otherwise good tea with milk—but you still don’t quite feel England so much as the shake.