Beware the grey ones

I’m having a bit of a binge reading JB Priestley and came across this strangley pertinent quote in his short story The Grey Ones (collected in The other place and other stories of the same sort (1953)):

Between them, [they] managed to put an end to everything that added a little colour and sparkle to life round our way. Of course they always had a good excuse — economy and all that. But I noticed [they] only made economies in one direction, on what you might call the anti-grey side, and never stirred to save money in other directions, in what was heavily official, pompous, interfering, irritating, depressing, calculated to make you lose heart. And you must have noticed yourself that we never do save money in those directions, either in municipal or national affairs…

To me it feels oddly like a call to arms…


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6 Responses to “Beware the grey ones”

  1. David Says:

    It’s an antisemitic allegory. Burn it.

  2. figgles1 Says:

    Thanks for the comment, I didn’t particulary pick it as anti-semitic, more aligned with the thinking in Philip Pullman’s recent speech “Leave the Libraries alone” (and the whole dreary economic rationalist mode of measuring things by money only)

  3. Rosalie Schultz Says:

    The Grey Ones is absolutely one of my favorite stories. It seems to apply to so many squelching, one-upsmanship people who surround us every day. I have been a big fan of Priestley’s for years and even though I live in chicago, I joined the English Priestley Society, centered around Priestley’s hometown of Bradford in Yorkshire country. I hope to get to a meeting there someday!

  4. John Wheater Says:

    Antisemitic?? No!

    Deeply relevant? Yes!

    I read it 50 years ago, and it is still with me.

    I fear it is too late for a call to arms. And that they have won. But I hope not.

  5. David Jones Says:

    In the UK it’s known as “Common Purpose” and very sinister and pernicious. Also seems reminiscent of Jews and their activities.

  6. figgles1 Says:

    I’m not a great believer in conspiracy theories, I don’t think humans are efficient enough to organise a really all pervasive and successful conspiracy…

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