Say Goodbye to Everything
This is a story of how honest, positive-thinking, hard-working, capable people come into conflict with our over-regulated western society. It will be of interest to anyone who would like to escape from a world in which human rights matter more than common humanity, safety matters more than adventure, bureaucracy matters more than romance, and the nanny state tries to control everything. More
Imagine a group of people who are outwardly modern and civilized but none of them insures anything. Everyone has to be self-reliant. “It is not honourable to rely on insurance,” they say.
This is a story of how honest, positive-thinking, hard-working, capable people come into conflict with our over-regulated western society. It will be of interest to anyone who would like to escape from a world in which human rights matter more than common humanity, safety matters more than adventure, bureaucracy matters more than romance, and the nanny state tries to control everything. The reader may be reminded of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead.
At the beginning of the story the two main characters, Nick and Miles, have just returned to Britain after having spent nine years in the Far East, where they had been living simply and happily in a community in the heart of rural China. Henceforth the main narrative is set in Britain but the threat of excessive bureaucracy is the same everywhere, including America. The story follows their experiences in Britain, but they find they do not fit into the western way of life any more. In All quiet on the Western Front the main character, Paul Baumer, feels estranged from his fellow-Germans who stayed at home while he, Baumer, was fighting in the trenches. Likewise Miles and Nick, having spent nine years in China, feel like aliens among their own people.
One day a card arrives on Miles’s desk. It says, in Chinese characters, “Come back to China” – nothing more. Nick and Miles take the hint, pack everything up, and head back to the Far East.
Everyone in this story is a little crazy. Nick claims to be the founder of the World Anti-Progress Society. Lippiet likes only things that are out of date and preferably broken-down. Meiki and Leni are feckless German girls who are constantly getting right wing and left wing ideals mixed up. Victoria, the saleswoman, has a reputation for bullying her friends and crushing her enemies but her voice is as soft as melting honey when she is wooing her lover.
Not only are the people crazy but their motives are too: Miles and Nick start up their own business but neither of them can sell their own products till Victoria comes along. Miles prefers telling tall stories and Nick prefers to write poetry. When the business finally comes to an end Nick and Miles have to think of what to do next. Instead of moving to America, which one might expect, they move back to China. Most of their staff set to sea in a boat, heading for Australia, but they deliberately take no life raft, no radio, in fact no precautions of any kind.
One of the characters, Gudi, has an Austrian accent exactly like Adolf Hitler’s, which her German friends think is tremendously funny. Everyone is accused of racism but actually everyone is innocent – the world cannot understand them.
A strong current of discontent runs through this book – discontent at our rigid society, which is plainly not working. When the characters “say goodbye to everything” they are saying goodbye to western values and planning their escape – to China, or the open sea, or (in Gudi’s case) back to Austria.