Monday, January 03, 2011

Five reasons to be proud of Britain

A number of things set this country aside for the better. These are a few alternative ones that springs to mind:

1) Animal welfare
If you've ever endured the sight of ladies (and some men too) proudly donning dead animals' fur elsewhere in the world, cherish the fact that in Britain the same practice is culturally frowned upon to say the least.

Sure, there's still a long way to go, but the fact that both the Queen and her royal guards still insist on wearing bearskin hats is further proof that the country is progressing faster than its rulers.

And this applies to foxhunting and various other cruel practices too. Even the opponents of the ban know that cruel power trips (because "sports" they're not) don't stand a chance as far as the country's public opinion is concerned.

2) Music
Yes, Britain may be suffering from a major trade deficit, but if there's one area where the export balance is firmly active, that's music. Just think of how many legendary bands and songs this country exported over the decades. No other country of similar size has ever produced such a number of music-inspired movements that have been so appreciated and copied around the world.

And anywhere you are in the world, if you turn on the radio, any moment, a singing voice from Basildon, Glasgow, Swansea, Manchester or elsewhere in the UK is likely to keep you company whatever it is that you're doing.

3) Drink driving
In several other countries too many people still see no wrong in taking a car after a night drinking, whereas in Britain even the nastiest geezer would not consider it. OK, maybe some still do, but in the public consciousness the practice is firmly and definitely considered taboo.

4) Food
"What are you talking about", I hear you say, "British culinary heritage pales in comparison with that of France, Spain, Italy, China, you name it". But at least most Britons are open-minded enough to adopt foreign dishes as part of their culture without any fear of food fascism or snotty superiority complexes seeping to the fore.

Few may satisfy the most demanding purists, but it's nice to know that most British towns and cities have a wide variety of international restaurants on offer. Oh, and ale. Overseas they don't know what they're missing. Not to mention the vegetarian "V" marked on the menu. That really is a rare sight abroad.

5) The Right-Wing
This will definitely piss off many readers. But when you look at the state of conservative or centre-right parties in other European countries, Australia or the US, it makes you feel a touch better about David Cameron and his lot.

Don't get me wrong. I think there are at least a thousand reasons not to ever vote Tory in this country, and I wouldn't even under torture, but they have come a long way.

When you look at Sarah Palin, Italy's Berlusconi or Spain's abhorrent Partido Popular and their appallingly bigoted superhomophobic proto-medieval brand of macho-conservatism, Britain's Tories come off best.

Click here to read "Five reasons to be ashamed of Britain".


asquith said...

There's nothing intrinsically wrong with British food, the problem with food in Britain is that so few people know or care about the best these islands have to offer. If they came to be more widely appreciated, you wouldn't be hearing so much negativity.

We have some magnificent ingredients, much/most of what I eat is sourced loally. I can't pretend to any great knowledge of traditional recipes (like a lot of peopl I was never taught) but they re not to be sniffed at, I view my ignorance as something remiss. You're right that we don't close the door to foreign influences, I certainly don't, but that's not all there is.

To my mind, what sums up Great Britain is the tradition of rule of law, civil liberties & the essential tolerance that made it all possible. When you think that people like Voltaire sought refuge in this country, that it was seen as a beacon of liberty (there's more, but I can't be arsed so soon after tea) you understand why I raged at the last government. You understand why I am vigilant & not complacent about the coalition.

There's also the King James Bible. You can imagine how seriously I take it religious & ethical content (not in the frigging least bit) but maybe one day it will be read alongside the Norse sagas & Greek myths. Maybe it began life in the Middle East but over 400 years it's become a definite part of English literature & culture.

If it & the Koran become obsolete, no tears will be shed here. But a memory should be kept as it is in this campaign to commemorate 400 years, in which vocal atheists play role.

Ben E said...

The absence of vegetarian labelling outside of the UK does sometimes make me think the rest of Europe a little backward. The French seem to think that bacon granules don't constitute meat and very little cheese on the continent is suitable (hence why I've had to smuggle Edam purchased in the UK to Amsterdam on several occasions).

I'm also glad that our police are less corrupt than the French and our media less deferrent. Thank heavens for our (much derided) more stringent health and safety laws - that we don't consider industrial accidents/deaths to be acceptable is a good thing. Now if we could just deal with our slavish gold-plating of EC directives and get rid of the EAW...

Ben E said...

p.s. you think NHS food is poor? Good luck getting a meal in a hospital in Spain!

claude said...

"our media less deferrent"
Erm...I disagree there...The Sun, The Express and the Daily Mail are second to none IN THE WORLD.

Ben E said...

I should have said "our quality media", but as Private Eye's "Street of Shame" proves - that's becoming a bit of an oxymoron. We're still better than the French!

McDuff said...

We're trending a little towards "damning with faint praise" in the latter points, there, don't you think?

Jackart said...

6. The Ashes? Just sayin'...

claude said...

I was going to add British comedy, British cinema (or all creative arts), and even the BBC, but I restricted myself to FIVE only.

claude said...

Oh, and the ability to make SMALL TALK, under all circumstances, whether at the bus stop, the pub, or at the checkouts at Boots. I think that's an amazing quality.

Stan Moss said...

Cheese! Wes hould be proud of our cheese!
Did you know that there are mroe independent cheese-makers in Britain than there are in France?