Thursday, March 4, 2021
The ongoing clash between Yan Bin and his club’s members has witnessed several dramatic phases: threats, lawsuits, duplicity, negotiations, truces, even death. But the tale isn’t just about the preposterousness of the wealthy. Rather, it’s impossible to learn about all this turmoil – in a place called “the Island”, for crying out loud – and not see it as an allegory. With its groves of pine and rhododendrons, its houses named Heatherbrook or Bluebell Wood or Silver Birches, and the gentle hillocks of its club’s fairways, Wentworth Estate holds dear a vision of pastoral Englishness. But since the 1980s, Wentworth has been reshaped – just like England itself – by money: first the wealth of the homegrown 1%, which considered itself immune to the turmoil of change, but which then found itself subject to the whims of the globalised capital held by the 0.001% like Yan Bin. The saga is familiar: a small locality unsettled by the arrival of an outsider. Except that the outsider is a transnational holding corporation, and the locality is Wentworth Estate, a slice of England overtaken by the world.