Yesterday we wrote about five reasons that should make Britain proud. Now it's time to look at the glass half empty.
1) The tabloid press
This blog has said it repeatedly. The poisonous role played by tabloids in this country has no equivalent elsewhere in the world, not on such as a scale and certainly not on a daily basis. Perfectly reasonable debates are routinely hijacked, distorted or turned hysterical for the sake of printing the FATTEST headline.
These are people who stop at nothing, whether illegal phone tapping or the publication of outright defamatory lies no matter the consequences, in order to make more money.
The tabloid world is a neurotic one where they will rant against "elf'n'safety-gone-mad", but they'll also be at the top of the queue screaming about "lazy-council-failing-to-warn-of-slippery-road" if it fits their angle on that day. They will cry outrage about a beauty contest for 13 year olds but then publish the most appallingly risque' photos in the same piece.
And it's at least partly due to the tabloid press and headlines like "Afghan-born dole-scrounging lesbian dog mauls mother of two" that Britain's turned into a country of paedophile-obsessed finger-pointing hypocondriacs where celebrity culture, bullying and OTT sexualisation have all gone through the roof.
2) The cost of living
Someone needs to explain why British taxpayers have to pay such massive levels of council tax for third rate services (ie rubbish collected once a fortnight if you're lucky). Or why house prices are so much higher than elsewhere in the Western world. Or why rail fares are the most expensive in Europe while offering such a poxy, overcrowded service. Or why so many people have to resort to borrowing in order to pay their bills (UK consumers account for two-thirds of total credit card debt in the EU). And so forth. Quite simply, unless you're loaded, Britain is not a kind place to be.
3) Celebrity culture
Yes, they have Big Brother, X-Factor and various spin-offs in practically every other country. But what they don't have is such a colossal industry of gossip magazines a-la Heat and the tabloid press (see point 1) to offer the whole machine such a platform for publicity. In the last ten years or so, Britain has reached endemic levels of celebrity-obsession.
This may also explain why there's such a widespread desire to conform and fit in with certain pre-packed images and why nine females out of 10 in 2009-10 were wearing Ugg Boots. Look what Cheryl Cole is wearing! Doesn't she look great? And so can you! Hop to New Look, TopShop and Miss Selfridge and you too can look like her. Can't afford it? Just stick in on plastic. Gowon. Just this once.
4) The loutish Brit abroad
According to the Foreign Office, the number of Britons arrested while on holiday abroad is soaring. Worse, figures show that Britons top the league when it comes to twatty behaviour on foreign soil, whether it's drug-taking, binge-drinking, fights or sexual violence (see this report published by Time magazine).
And it really is embarrassing, because it then becomes easy for people abroad to tar all British holidaymakers with the same brush, even the many who have no intention of behaving like Attila the Hun by cutting and pasting English town centre-style street-vomiting and brawling across to the warm shores of Rhodes, Benidorm or the Algarve.
Why, however, so many British kids, low, middle and upper class, appear unable to control their repressed selves the moment they fly abroad in the summer remains an embarrassing mystery.
5) The state of national football teams
At the next world cup it'll have been 48 years since England managed their last (and only) World Cup. The most expensive League in the world, wages that should justify "top talent", all the build-ups and the talking-up and still FA happens when it's time to deliver.
As for Scotland and Northern Ireland, it feels impossible to believe that in the 1980s and 1990s they would regularly qualify for major tournaments. As for Wales, there's still hope in Gareth Bale.
Click here to read "Five reasons to be proud of Britain".