5 JULY 1963, Page 7

A Spectator's Notebook

THE recently issued special number of En- counter, which has been organised by Arthur Koestler to assess the condition of contemporary England, is more depressing than anything I have read for years—not because of the sorry state of affairs which the contributors allege, but because of their own state of mind. Of them all, only Henry Fairlie, undeterred by Koestler's dis- pleasure, points out that England is still, perhaps, the easiest of all countries to live in; for the rest we have such an exhibition of nagging and wailing as would make one think that the plague was once more upon us. An important distinc- tion in attitudes is somewhere made by a female cltracter of Evelyn Waugh's, who remarks that for some people the day is ruined if one little thing goes wrong, whereas for herself she will count the day made if one little thing goes right. Constitutionally pessimistic and sceptical, I am of the latter persuasion, and so I find it hard to believe that ICoestler and so many other intelli- gent writers can seriously envisage for this country the state of streamlined perfection which they appear to advocate. Quite apart from any- thing else, their remedies for our shortcomings are so unamiable, so aggressive, so philistine: interference with this and investigation of that, more and more bossing about by technocrats— does no one these days remember the fable of King Log and King Stork?