Now let’s really take back control

I don’t believe “My country, right or wrong”. I’m not a jingoistic supporter of the England team in football tournaments. Quite the opposite, in fact. I’m not at all proud of Britain’s colonial past.

Don’t misunderstand me – there are some things about the country that I’m proud of. The sense of humour, proper pies with a complete pastry enclosure and a good filling (and of course steak and kidney pudding, which is clearly ambrosia with added gravy)… The British plug, which you can plug in safely, in the dark, without the slightest struggle, unlike the stupid bloody continental things. Maps; you don’t realise how lucky you are to have the Ordnance Survey until you’ve tried to navigate through another country with a “map” that was clearly drawn up by a halfwit after an extremely alcoholic lunch.

But the thing that makes me proudest to be British – and which has always done so – is how, as a nation, we have always been able to show a stiff upper lip in the face of adversity. You only have to read the Sharpe novels to appreciate how tough the British army and its followers were. You only have to watch the “World at War” episode about the Blitz to admire the resilience and determination of the population as a whole.

And that’s what makes it all the more soul-destroying to see social media filling up today with people confirming that they’re OK, or changing their Facebook avatar to a Union Jack.

A few people have been killed by someone in a car. I admit, it’s sad for them and their families, but it’s hardly a national disaster. And someone else has tried to attack London… using a knife.

Let’s just think about that for a moment. One man. With a knife.

Every year in Britain about 25,000 knife offences are officially reported, and about 1700 people die on the roads. Many of these are not accidental. But we’re not all changing our Facebook avatars over these. Why not? Are people killed by terrorists worth more than those killed by random nutters or ex mates or alcohol?

“But it’s terrorism”, is of course the answer that will be given by the Daily Mail reader in the street.

Well here’s a thought. Today, after the ‘terrorist attack’ on Westminster, which would make these terrorists happier – sober, minimal reporting of their efforts or a wave of hysterical reaction? Aren’t they most likely to be sitting now looking at their computer screens and grinning at the Union Jacks gradually taking over their friends lists?

If you really believe that terrorism is war, then surely you’re just encouraging the enemy by giving any credence to the fact that these attacks really constitute threats to us all as a nation?

Whatever happened to the good old British stiff upper lip? Or are we so weakened by reality TV and Starbucks and wet wipes that we just don’t have one any more? What would Churchill have made of us?


So, yeah, I’m fine, thanks. I’m like really traumatised because I have actually travelled through London in the past couple of years, so it was like *really* close, but I’m coping. Just about.

2 thoughts on “Now let’s really take back control

  1. Well said! Not sure our “stiff upper lip” is always something to be proud of though. I am also a fan of the German low key and undramatic reaction to the terrorist attack before xmas. We really should keep things in perspective. All death is terrible and wasteful. The 33 civilians killed two days ago by a US airstrike in Raqqa hardly cause a dent in our consciousness in comparison. But it is a sad day when one has to start weighing deaths up against each other so I’ll leave it at that.


  2. Exactly, Galina – people die for all kinds of reasons, many of them stupid, cruel and wasteful, every day. What about the Syrian victims of the sarin gas attack? Or, if one persists in a Eurocentric view, in which such people aren’t worthy of our concern, what about the (coincidentally) four Swedes killed every week in car accidents?

    Until we can agree that everyone is equal, that everyone’s death is potentially just as tragic for them and their families, then humanity is simply doomed to repeat this “us and them” nonsense to its ultimate conclusion: war.

    So was it a terrible attack in Stockholm? No. It was terrible that someone died in my village last week. It was terrible that a colleague’s friend died in their late 50s. And yes, it was also terrible that four people happened to die in Stockholm from the actions of some idiot.

    But let’s not pretend that the end of one human life is more worthy of our comment and pity than another.

    We’re all humans. Let’s try to act like it.


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