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.