Monday, May 11, 2009

So what CAN we be proud of now?

I don't like the evisceration of Parliament by cynical and irresponsible journalists like Ben Brogan. I am sceptical of and afraid of the desperation of those who stole information to fuel a Parliamentary story that is surely a bonfire of the vanities, but may also be, conceivably, the bonfire of our democracy.

In the face of the "shaming of our Parliament" I am struggling to feel positive about my country. As I leave the UK once more, and as the plane taxies out to the runway, I am trying to think of the ten things that I love about Britain.

Funnily enough the first thing I think of is that our airlines are very good. It doesn't matter whether it is British Airways, Virgin or BMI, you know when you get on a British plane you are most likely going to have a good flight. Even our low cost airline, Easyjet, is massively better than its Irish competition.

Then there is the beautiful landscape: the soft rolling hills of the south, the bleak Pennines of the North in England, the Mountains of Wales, the sea lochs of west of Scotland or the majestic Grampians of the east, all are amongst the most beautiful places we could find.

Then there is the humour of the Brits- the wise cracks of the Scousers, the dry humour of Glasgow that Chic Murray captured so well. the surrealism of Python or the League of Gentlemen, all part of the root of our culture.

Then there are the great cities- the pride of the Pier Head in Liverpool, the glory of Edinburgh, the quiet elegance of Bath or Cheltenham or Buxton. Above all the greatest city in Europe, which is surely London.

Within those cities there are the peerless cathedrals: of perfect Salisbury, or St. Paul's in London. of Elgin and St. Machers in Aberdeen, St Giles in Edinburgh, Wells, or Llandaff, Norwich, York and Lincoln, the fortress of Durham, the college chapel of Oxford.

The Royal Family, so familiar they are almost our own family. The decent and dignified Queen Elizabeth II, the sincere and honourable Prince of Wales.

Our tradition of tolerance, and decency, our fair mindedness.

Our innovation and our resistance to conformity- the belief that we can go to the devil our own way- and that this should be allowed.

The music scene- always new and interesting, from the Levellers in folk, to the Symphony Orchestras, to the latest teen sensation.

Though I leave Britain feeling sad about what is happening in politics, I hope that the richness of the British identity can transcend this vicious and trivial attack on the very basis of our democracy- and the cupidity of those who made themselves vulnerable.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Just for information Cicero - Chic Murray was from Edinburgh and used to run a bar overlooking Bruntsfield Links. One of it's main clientels was underage drinkers from James Gillespie's High School (and the next door youth hostel).