A New England

On previous occasions I have written posts about the changes I have witnessed in Poland(e.g. I Love Warsaw, 7 Years On) without writing a single word about England.  Now I can’t help but wonder why?  Perhaps my reticence is due to the claim that people should only write about what they know(After all I haven’t lived in England for nearly 8 years).  I suspect it has something to do with the motherly maxim ‘if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.’

One of the strangest things about growing up in England was the importance of television. The most striking thing about English soaps and films was how fucking miserable they were compared to other countries.  It appears that very little has changed.  If soaps are to be believed England is full of po-faced cunts sitting around drinking tea and moaning.  Our film industry has reached such a low ebb that our biggest money-spinner is a blond James Bond with manners better suited to the Elizabethan era.  Our only saving grace is comedy.  Sitcoms, comedy dramas, mockumentaries, sketch shows and stand ups all prove that comedy is alive and well in England.  It has even hijacked the quiz show genre.  The question the overabundance of comedy on our tv screens poses is why do we possess such an insatiable appetite for humour?

Is England depressed?  How on earth do you go about diagnosing a country with depression?  Are we witnessing the emergence of a new 21st century mentality?  Is this what the Latin scholars christened Couldn’tgiveafuckitus?  A quick look at www.mentalhealth.org.uk was enough to convince me that something is definitely wrong.

Is this the result of a nation which feels obliged to answer fine when someone asks how are you?  Is our stiff upper lip affecting our happiness?  What does it really mean when we say mustn’t grumble in response to a personal question despite the fact we are obsessed with grumbling about the weather?  Are we witnessing the implosion of English stolidity? Are we all destined to end up on the Jeremy Kyle show?

On a recent visit to England I was stunned by the amount of times I heard someone utter the magnificently British phrase ‘I can’t be bothered.’  Initially it left me wondering where such a crippling inertia stems from.  I was convinced that the vast majority of English people think that Carpe Diem is some kind of fish.  Now I suspect that it is merely a symptom of something more.  After all there was a reason the financial recession of the 1920’s was known as the Great Depression.  Or maybe I am wrong.  Maybe England has always been that way.

The times they aren’t a-changing –
Yeah, England’s still shit and it’s still raining,
And everybody’s jaded and tired and bored
And no one lifts a finger because
It’s just not in our culture.
Our culture is carrion and we’re all vultures,
And no one seems bothered by this state of play –
It seems that the stench is with us to stay.

Frank Turner – Once We Were Anarchists

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