One Fine Day : A Journey Through English Time, Hardback Book

One Fine Day : A Journey Through English Time Hardback


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A time-travelling, genealogical adventure, bringing pre-industrial, rural, eighteenth-century England vividly to life on the page. One day Ian Marchant, acclaimed author of books on music, railways and pubs, decided, as all men of a certain age must, to have a dig around his family history.

Surprisingly quickly, a web search informed him that his seven-times-great great-grandfather, Thomas Marchant had left a detailed diary from 1714 to 1728.

So far, so jolly ... Life-loving diarist Thom - who liked a drink and a game of cards - feels recognisably Marchant to Ian.

With fascinating, immersive detail we learn about Thom's family farm and fishponds; about dung, horses and mud; about beer, the wife's nights out, his own job troubles and their shared worries for their children.

But as Ian digs deeper beyond the Sussex diary's bucolic portrait he discovers a subtext - a family descended from immigrants, with anti-establishment politics, who are struggling with illness, political instability and cash crises - just as their country does three centuries on. 'When I was reflecting late one January evening on the differences between Thom and me, I realised the unbridgeable thing that comes between us is industrialisation.

He lived right at its beginning, while I am living somewhere towards its end.

Old Thom Marchant was one of the last people before industrialisation to understand how his world worked - and how to be largely self-sufficient in it.

He knew where his food came from, his fuel, his water, his clothes.

He knew how the welfare system worked, and was part of its administration; he knew who looked after the roads, too.

He collected taxes. He was not separate from the system, but part of it.'Rich with immersive detail, One Fine Day draws a living portrait of Marchant family life in the 1720s and how their England (rainy, muddy, politically turbulent, illness-ridden) became the England of the 2020s.


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