Thursday, 3 June 2010

B is for Britain

We all seem to have a daily rant here in Britain about the rubbishness of the weather, the transport, the politicians and the chavs, but I have to say I bloody love this country. Not in an English-flag brandishing, football-loutish or snobbishly imperialistic way, but in that I'm happy being here most of the time. I don't share the now-fashionable obsession with emigrating to sunnier climes (although it's amazing to get away and I would love to live abroad temporarily) but I do have what is better described as an overwhelming fondness than a fierce patriotism for this sceptred isle.

It's easy to forget the fundamental joys of living in a developed Western country, but of course they are many - freedom of speech, equality, democracy and an uncorrupt justice system. But it's the littler things, those you miss at the end of a holiday, that warm my heart on a regular basis. The politeness - I have been told by more than one non-Brit than our pleases and thank yous are excessively and unnecessarily used, but I appreciate every little piece of verbal etiquette that comes my way. Yes, we apologise when someone else bustles into us, and often to entirely inanimate objects, but it's a compulsion that makes us loveable. I love the amount of satire in our press and on TV, especially the topical panel shows such as Have I Got News For You where no-one and nothing is too sacred for examination. I enjoy our eccentrics (even the Royal Family for their entertainment value) and traditions, and personally think we have a pleasant balance of conservative and liberal minds. I enjoy a cup of tea on a drizzly day while snuggled inside on a sofa. Sunshine puts me in a great mood, but 365 days of roasting heat a year leaves no room for seasonal contrast or variety, from your wardrobe to your leisure activities. Can you imagine being without the glorious novelty of a beer garden in summer, or a snowball fight in winter? We appreciate jetting off somewhere warm so much more for having such an unpredictable climate here. I love the smalltalk, the wit, the humour and the diversely styled fashionistas. I enjoy our straight-talking celebs more with every bland Hollywood soundbite from a US star, and the irreverence of our entertainment TV and awards shows. The history and culture of London is far superior to so many tourist destinations, we just find it hard to see that when we're so close to the action.

From our offbeat advertising to our disloyalty to political parties (the 'Ok, show me what you've got' approach to this year's election was truly impressive) and our ability to laugh at our own failings, from teen mums to snobbery, is what makes Britain unique. In some ways - mostly financial - we could be described as Broken, but in essentials we are flourishing. I like that a grown man can be reduced to tears by the kick of a ball and someone convinced they are Yoda or Jesus can get on their soapbox at Speaker's Corner without being moved on. In the next 24 hours I will definitely complain about the weather, become enraged by fellow commuters and needlessly mock a public figure, but deep down I'm happy that by random chance and good luck, I happen to live here.

When Derrick Bird shot twelve people on a seemingly motiveless killing spree in Cumbria yesterday, the reports were not met with sad resignation as a sign of the times. There were and are ripples of outrage, numbed shock and furious questioning in every paper, on every website and around every watercooler in the country. Do we ever stop and appreciate that such large-scale and tragic violence is a distinct rarity here? Sometimes it's hard to remember amongst the tax moans and the MP gags, but from high school shootings to Taliban-esque restrictions, terror and violence is part of the everyday for so many people around the world. That's not to say it is any less tragic that twelve innocents have been killed by one selfish man determined to punish the world for his misfortunes; simply that we should look around us once in a while and reconsider our disdain for this little piece of earth.


  1. Really nice article, glad that hignfy got a mention.

  2. Nice piece. Bit shocked by your comment that teenage mothers are a failing we should feel free to laugh at.

  3. British comedians and people in general do laugh at both at our having the highest teen pregnancy rate in Europe and at Vicky Pollard culture. I also said we do - 'our ability to' - not that we should.

  4. Excellent stuff. Could not agree more. Too often complaining about the lows and good to be nudged on to remember to count the joys. xx

  5. More drivel...

  6. Dear Anonymous (of 4th June),

    I am so sorry to hear you so vehemently dislike every word I type. The blog obviously offends you on some deep and personal level that goes way beyond simply subject matter (or it wouldn't be every post, would it) so you must be impressively sadistic to keep coming back.

    22 page views today, almost an hour spent trawling through drivel that you can barely stand (for more than a few hours a day). I also see that you work for a company with a less than moral past, how interesting. Do they know how much of their workday you spent sizzling with pure hatred for this site? I do hope you have a google of some other websites soon so you can find the blog of your dreams, where your opinions and feelings are laid out every day in the style palettable to you. This might best be achieved by starting your own blog. I for one would be an avid reader.

    Sunny salutations,

    Miss Write

  7. Miss Write - that response to anonymous is awesome. As is the blog.

    I love living in Britain; like the rest of the world it has it's cons as well as it's pros, but I reckon we're pretty lucky to live where we do.

  8. nice to hear a positive spin :-) although I think Brits particularly enjoy a good moan - it's very therapeutic at times lol. I enjoy your blogs - you write so eloquently.

  9. Well put my friend! Our slightly barking elderly and the garden BBQ (spelt in that fashion) should surely also be considered x