Sunday, 4 March 2012

Spring is still spring

For years, when spring arrives, I've been misquoting George Orwell: 'Spring is here, and they can't touch you for it.' After being corrected by a Twitter friend, I checked. The actual lines, at the end of his 1946 essay 'Some Thoughts on the Common Toad', are rather more lovely: 
'I think that by retaining one’s childhood love of such things as trees, fishes, butterflies, and - to return to my first instance - toads, one makes a peaceful and decent future a little more probable… At any rate, Spring is here, even in London N.1, and they can’t stop you enjoying it. This is a satisfying reflection. How many a time I have stood watching the toads mating, or a pair of hares having a boxing match in the young corn, and thought of all the important persons who would stop me enjoying this if they could. But luckily they can’t. So long as you are not actually ill, hungry, frightened or immured in a prison or holiday camp, Spring is still Spring. The atom bombs are piling up in the factories, the police are prowling through the cities, the lies are streaming from the loudspeakers, but the earth is still going round the sun, and neither the dictators nor the bureaucrats, deeply as they disapprove of the process, are able to prevent it.'

Amen to that. Spring is here, even in Liverpool L17, and they can't touch me for it.


  1. 'They can't touch you for it' is I think a Liverpool (Ken Dodd) coinage.

  2. Thanks for pointing me in the direction of that essay - easily found online in its entirety. Wonderful stuff. Might have to seek out a collection of Orwell's essays now.
    Is it likely that Ken Dodd coined the phrase before Orwell used it in 1946?