Chocolate box fantasy

March 15, 1996

If I were part of the ethnic minority population living in the Birmingham area, I would say that the quality of the maps at Cadbury World (pace Catherine Hall, THES March 8) was positively the least of the problems confronting me. Working conditions and economic prosperity would be rather higher on the agenda.

In this light I would be depressed to hear that a university professor visiting Bournville had eyes only for the theme park and none for the factory, but pleased to learn that Cadbury still open their factory to the public - I hope Quaker paternalism will stand out against Michael Heseltine's vision of re-creating modern Asian inequalities in Britain via the barbarisation of the workplace.

If I had time for retrospection, it would not be wasted on a distant and vanished empire; but I would know that Britain was a country my father had sought to enter and which had given him his chance in life. No doubt the aborigines of Britain have their failings, but nostalgia for empire is not a significant one. As an item of conscious identity, this was a recent and spurious invention which, as a result, disappeared almost without trace and with remarkably little pain. Catherine Hall tells us that "the legacy of the Empire is all around us", and finds it in a (historical) map in a theme park. QED. I have no wish to impugn her good intentions, but a cynic might suggest that the simply fantastic nature of what she writes indicates a self-preoccupation worthy of the Raj at its worst.

PETER GHOSH St Anne's College Oxford

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