Loud, drunken, arrogant and demanding, who can fail to recognise the mating call of the Greater Spotted Brit when they are abroad…especially when they are on holiday. Once a year many Brits conduct their annual invasion of the beaches and bars of Europe, and mark my words for the locals in these areas it really can feel like an invasion. It is said that you can spot a Brit abroad even without the aid of the union jack shorts and T-shirts. In sunnier climates, they can be identified by excessive drinking (followed closely by falling over), their bright lobster red clammy skin, semi (if not complete) nudity and constant complaints about the food, weather, beer, locals and the foreign lingo.
Even the most refined of Brits abroad are often categorised by their arrogance, lack of empathy for local people and cultures and near continuous references to “The War”. Ok, I grant you that these are rather extreme stereotypes of the British species, but do they hold up to scrutiny, and is it fair to tar all the peoples of Great Britain with the same brush. Undoubtedly there are those that have made the transition and who have integrated into communities abroad, taking on board the local language and customs and becoming an integrated part of a wider community (to my Dutch friends and colleges, I am still a one language savage that raids the bars and scares the women). This is especially so for those who have moved to study or work abroad (or at least I would like to think so). Yet at the heart of all the stereotyping, the banter, the humour, there exists a core of truth. Indeed I would argue that not only is there truth but also that it was inevitable given the historical context of “Great” Britain. Before I continue it also annoys me how in the UK, we constantly refer to “Great” Britain with emphasis on the “Great”. If many of those toothless patriots clutching their “keep calm and carry on mugs realised what the Great stood for they would be disappointed. It simply refers to geography, with Great Britain as opposed to Brittany (or Lower Britain), it reflects nothing on the superiority of its people, food, culture, imperial legacy or humour…sorry guys.
Great Britain is a nation in turmoil, and it has been so since the end of the second world war. Brexit as discussed in the last article you had the fortune to read (if you haven’t go read it and improve my mediocre readership numbers) is merely the latest in a knee jerk reaction to our decline since the days of imperial glory (otherwise known as the brutal oppression of anyone who had the pleasure to be a part of our little global domination project). We as a people are in crisis, and not just because we are on the verge of economic stupidity, but also in terms of our identity. We have been debating what it has meant to be British for a long time, we are quite happy to refer to ourselves as “the Great British public” without having a clue about what we are talking about. We do not accept that in the space of just over 70 years we have gone from Great Britain to Little Britain. Just over 70 years ago, Britain was still dominant across the globe, economically and militarily. The rapid and cataclysmic decline from World Super Power to small rock just west of the Netherlands is still something a lot of the older generation cannot handle. As a people, many Brits just can’t accept that in the new world order Britain is to the world, as Placobdelloides jaegerskioeldi is to the African Hippo.
The British people are confused, in denial and hankering after colonial an imperialistic past that it cannot accept no longer exists, nor is there a place for it in the modern world. Slogans like “taking back control” and “Making Britain Great Again” are just hankerings for a return to an imperialist past that has long gone and exists only in the minds of fantasists who still think losing the Suez Canal happened a week last Saturday. For those of us who were born and grew up as European citizens and are about to lose that, young people who got on board with the spirit of the EU and some even believed in the greater identity of being European first and British second. I myself was one of those people until a short time ago when I realised that Pan-European identity is a delusion. Unfortunately for those waving the union jack like a monkey on steroids, British identity is also a powerful delusion and a false construct. As a nation, we cannot get away from the concept of colonialism and that for over a century we have been guilty of employing an “Internal Colonialism” on the nations of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Britishness is not so much about Britain, as about England. When you see and apply the British stereotype, you are in affect applying an English stereotype on all of the people of Britain. No wonder Wales and Scotland are trying to seek independence and define a clear national identity of their own……. but that argument is for another depressing and agonising article. The thing a lot of people do not realise is that given the choice, a lot of English people would also vote to separate from Scotland, and anyone else who questions the decisions of their English masters. Unlike other forms of colonialism (such as the Chinese with their “handcuff anyone thinking of leaving to the table” approach), the superiority complex of the English is such that many of the English do not care whether the union stays together or falls apart, as a collective English culture it is like a thin skinned Donald Trump. The English are happy to insult the Scots, Welsh, the EU, and any foreigner but becomes remarkably offended if anyone questions or insults the status quo. Much like a child who is told that they are not the centre of everything and they can’t have all the sweets in the shop. The Scots hate the English and the English hate anyone with the slightest trace of an accent and the loving union of the United Kingdom dysfunctionally continues on its way once again.
So the next time you see a Brit mouthing off about the food, the culture and language around them, or when you see them lying in a state of drunken stupor in the gutter, yes by all means shake your head and roll your eyes, but also have sympathy. Understand that the Brits or more so the English are a confused people that have not come to terms with their new status of insignificance on a changing world stage. We are a very special people indeed.