Citizens of a country that no longer exists

An older couple get onto the train before me. In fact, I inadvertently got between the two of them, and allowed the gentleman onto the train before me. He thanked me with grave and particular courtesy.

The past is a different country. Any of us might be citizens of that country that no longer exists. An England, or indeed any land, that has passed away, ceased to be. We may be people whose allegiance is to a time, and place, and way of life, that is now forgotten.

I myself, never mind that polite old gent, am a citizen of such a land. Like someone standing on the seashore, as the wave recedes, who feels the water rushing past, draining away, eroding their footing in the sand of the present.

I know a younger lady, but lately married, who herself also belongs to that country. Though only young, she has dual citizenship in the countries of the present and the past.

GK Chesterton once replied to the accusation that he lived in the past, with the sharp and truthful observation that there was no room in the present.

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