Tuesday, July 19, 2005


Identity Crisis

One of the most difficult to bear aspects of recent events has been watching people who don't live in Britain empathising with some fictional, make-believe land that doesn't actually exist. Take this post, for example. I do appreciate the sentiment, honestly I do, but this list has about as much to do with life in modern Britain as John Major's witterings about maids on bycicles and cricket on the village lawn did a decade ago.

A quick glance at the list reveals why. Goofy hats? Who wears goofy hats? If he means, as I think he does, bowlers, the only people who wear them are people in indie bands attempting an 'ironic cool' look. Gone are the days when your bank manager wore one. Gone are the days, too, of mad cows. I know this made us rather famous for a while, but to take one example, I'm pretty sure that 'things that live in the wild' (by which I mean flora and fauna in total, not just cattle or anything) are more likely to be actually edible here than, say, Australia, yet nobody spends way too much time on copy about ciguatera or dengue fever or whatever.

Similar story about The Beatles. Two are dead, one doesn't make music any more, and the fourth is a very rich nonentity. Let's move on. Beefeaters? This matters to non-Londoners how?

To be fair to the writer, however, the list they produced is considerably better than those of some of the commenters. Here are some of the highlights:

1) 'Occam.' I actually had to Google this. It appears to be something to do with a razor, though fuck knows what. This is one of the best things about Britain?

2) 'Guy Fawkes.' It's pretty funny that someone thought this was a great aspect to Britain, but even more funny that it was deleted by the blog owner as being 'a bit offensive.' You know, four hundred years after the Gunpowder Plot, I think we're over it.

3) 'Tweed with patches on the elbows.' I think you'll find this is the province of the slightly too-liberal substitute teacher everywhere, not just Britain.

4) 'I like Beefeaters. I have family that raises beef.' I love this one, because if it's sincere, it's so daft that it's hilarious, and if it's a joke, it's so bad you've got to laugh at the writer anyway.

5) 'Lyle's Golden Syrup.' This reminded me of that 'Fast Show' sketch where Ron Manager talks about how things were better in the olden days, as he always did, and he mentions 'Bartlett's Pear Halves.' There's nothing quite like food product nostalgia.


6) 'Mr. Brain's Faggots.' Call me childish, but I was laughing for fully five minutes after reading that. I haven't a clue what they're on about, but it's still creasing me up.

That only goes half way down the comments. You may wish to go further in order to find out from Johnny Foreigner just exactly what it is he loves so much about Britain. If it's better than number six, though, I'll eat my toes.

In fairness, however, instead of just carping from the sidelines, I thought I'd provide the definitive list of the few things to be thankful for in modern Britain:

1) Marmite.
2) Pub crawling.
3) Me.
4) Cynicism.
Most important of all,
5) Alan Partridge.

That's it, really.

Take the left-overs from vinegar making. Add salt. Sell as a sandwich spread. If we can be nationalistic about anything, Marmite is it.

Marmite?!? Get into some VEGEmite, man!
It is rather touching that one of the commenters mentioned Manchester United, unless they were trying to be funny.
You forgot Stephen Fry. How could you?
Tony -

Isn't Vegemite more or less the same thing? I always imagined it was just a different name.

I'll look into the matter.

Actually, I once housed an exchange student from South Africa, and she adored vegemite. She never gave me any, however.


You're too right. Man Utd are, of course, a reason to be proud of China, if they're a reason to be proud of anywhere (which they aren't).

Once, I saw a fellow in Manchester wearing a United hat. Only happened once, mind you.

Anonymous -

More later!

Hungbunny -

Yes, Stephen Fry can be added. I have to say, though, I've noticed you mentioning or defending him in a few comments recently. Is there something you aren't telling us . . ?
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