Only just made it for June!
Nationalism vs Patriotism. Where does one finish and the other begin? Are they in any way related? In recent years, Patriotism is generally seen as a positive and honourable way to be whereas Nationalism is taking everything way too seriously and actually being part of the overall problem (other views are available). I quite like it when England win at rugby, but I don’t suffer if it’s someone else. I will celebrate Wales or Ireland winning and yes, we do joke about ‘anyone but France’ but, to be honest, when France do beat us, I don’t have to check myself into hospital.
But it’s not the same for everyone, is it? Some people do get very exercised about it. I guess it’s all about degree. Being supportive of an English or British endeavour; wearing a shirt or cap to show support; waving a flag or painting your face in your national flag’s colours; putting a flag up in a window at home; putting a flag up in every window at home; adding a further flag to a pole you’ve erected in the garden; berating others who don’t display enough support; becoming violent towards people you suspect are not at your own level of national pride. I think it’s a sliding scale and clearly goes from absolutely fine and normal to mentally ill. But how do some folks get there and why does it appear to be increasing? We used to be a nation of tolerance and now are fast becoming a nation of intolerance.
I mean, there’ve alway been bigots and pillocks. I’ve known a few over the years. But they were generally Billy-no-mates types. People with a grudge or a chip on their shoulder. They operated outside of the regular circles of civilisation. It only seems a short while ago that we were condemning the old-style comedians for misogyny and racism. Mother-in-law jokes, schoolgirl fetishes, blacking up, these were things that we left behind. I don’t think real harm was ever intended but, with hindsight, it’s easy to see that we used to behave in ways that would occasionally make others feel uncomfortable. And I honestly thought we’d all moved on. But no. It seems we haven’t. In fact, we appear to be embracing that kind of attitude more fervently than ever before. I recently witnessed a small, elderly Yorkshireman spit on the floor at a bus stop and then say, loudly, ‘It fucking stinks round here!’ I couldn’t figure out what he meant (because it didn’t) but when I followed his line of sight I realised that he was referring to the three young Somali women who were climbing onto the bus. I was utterly shocked. I’ve heard more than my share of racist abuse but never anything that was as ugly and violent as that. To my dismay, by the time I realised what he meant, the bus doors were shutting, otherwise I would have followed them on and apologised for him. When did all this start to happen?
I think I know the answer. I think we all do. I thought we’d done with the likes of Bernard Manning but, instead, we have a series of Bernard Manning tribute acts all running for election. And half the population are lapping it up. And if someone like myself makes some negative comment then we’re accused of being part of the ‘liberal elite’! Now, I have to hold my hand up on the liberal front (though not lib-dem!) but as far as elite goes, I think I fall rather short in that department. The term ‘snowflake’ is also bandied about. Initially meaning ‘someone who is easily offended’ it has now mutated into anyone who is a tolerant, fair-minded, multi-cultural, feminist who wants everyone to have a fair crack at the whip. If that’s the case then I guess I have to adopt that label as well. A ‘liberal elite snowflake’; I might get a tee-shirt made.
And, on top of all that, we now have an outbreak of masculine toxicity: Mark Field suspended for going full on kung fu on a small woman in a red party dress; Boris for having the rozzers set on him after having a meltdown with his new squeeze in her flat and the orange buffoon across the Atlantic having another set of sexual assault accusations levelled at him while he toys with the idea of bombing Iran because he’s a bit bored and his Mr Pastry lookalike of a National Security Advisor is worried he might die before his achieves his life-long ambition of atomising the planet. What’s going on? Why are men acting like this? Is it the rise of the LGBTQ+ movement? Are they all scared they’re going to catch gay disease so think strutting about with either your chest or your dick out is the answer?
I don’t know. But I’m running out of things to be ashamed of: British, white, male, US ally.
The thing is, there are plenty of things to be absolutely proud of: our literature; our art; our music; our drama… There was a time when I could have added tolerance, multiculturalism and our respect on the world’s stage. But, sadly, they’ve gone now. Still, concentrate on what we do have: read a book or a poem; play some fabulous British rock music; go to see a Shakespeare play or a Pinter or a Kane; wander about in the countryside and have lunch in a pub; have fish and chips or talk about the weather. Do those things and enjoy the real Britain instead of hankering after some pseudo version of a Britain that never really existed anyway. And be nice to each other and pay others compliments and make sure that you make at least one other person smile every day.
And don’t forget to visit my Website!