AN INSPECTOR CALLS

The title of this fine play is more than slightly ironic, given that our hordes of contemporary inspectors do the exact opposite of this inspector. Priestley’s ghostly protagonist takes a holistic, systemic, ‘joined-up’ view of a series of outcomes and makes the players accountable for their actions; today’s inspectors tick the boxes, focusing on only the minutiae of their disconnected tasks and are entirely unconcerned with what happens as a consequence.

Priestley warned elsewhere of the danger if the Nazis won the Second World War (a war soon to be rebranded by the Eurocrats, we were told this week, as the ‘European Civil War’ – an insult to our ANZAC allies if it is anything more than Daily Mail piffle). He said that the danger was not the obvious one of the Nazi jackboot, but the insidious danger of armies of petty-minded sneaks and spies and pen-pushing bureaucrats who would seize the opportunity of their employment to meddle, criticise and carp…

Step up the other kind of inspector: OFSTED, health&safety, adoption agencies, planning inspectors, and their ilk.  Unlike these offense-seeking ferrets, Priestley’s inspector ‘never takes offense’…

Currently gently rumbling in my ear as I redesign my blog – you catch it on Radio 4’s ‘Listen Again’ until this Friday – May 1st 2012

From Wikipedia: An Inspector Calls is a play written by English dramatist J. B. Priestley, first performed in 1945 in the Soviet Union and 1946 in the UK. The play is a three-act drama, which takes place on a single night in 1912, focusing on the prosperous middle-class Birling family,[4] who live in a comfortable home in Brumley, “an industrial city in the north Midlands”. The family is visited by a man calling himself Inspector Goole, who questions the family about the suicide of a young working-class woman, Eva Smith (also known as Daisy Renton). The family are interrogated and revealed to have been responsible for the young woman’s exploitation, abandonment and social ruin, effectively leading to her death.

The play has been hailed as a scathing critique of the hypocrisies of Victorian/Edwardian English society and as an expression of Priestley’s Socialist political principles. Unfortunately, the play is now studied in many secondary schools as one of the set texts for English Literature GCSE effectively killing an opportunity for it to inspire our youth.

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