The English

Well, no, we industrialised early

An Italian chef says:

“There have always been beautiful British ingredients but, after the war, the country was hungry and poor so American-style convenience food came in. Meanwhile, in Italy, people were starving and fell back on traditional recipes. In Italy, we pass recipes down from generation to generation and in the UK, that historical chain is broken. So now you have your TV dinners, which are a disaster.”

Quite possibly an entire century out in that. As an economist writes:

Maybe the first question is how English cooking got to be so bad

in the first place. A good guess is that the country’s early

industrialization and urbanization was the culprit. Millions of

people moved rapidly off the land and away from access to traditional

ingredients. Worse, they did so at a time when the technology of

urban food supply was still primitive: Victorian London already had

well over a million people, but most of its food came in by horse-

drawn barge. And so ordinary people, and even the middle classes,

were forced into a cuisine based on canned goods (mushy peas!),

preserved meats (hence those pies), and root vegetables that didn’t

need refrigeration (e.g. potatoes, which explain the chips).

But why did the food stay so bad after refrigerated railroad cars

and ships, frozen foods (better than canned, anyway), and eventually

air-freight deliveries of fresh fish and vegetables had become

available? Now we’re talking about economics–and about the limits

of conventional economic theory. For the answer is surely that by

the time it became possible for urban Britons to eat decently, they

no longer knew the difference.

I’m not insisting that Krugman is wholly and totally correct here but would insist that here’s something to it. British food was famously bad before the war too – G. Orwell talks about that at some length.

Idiot – How about English? Or British?

Who are we? What is the name that we call ourselves? Mixed people are the fastest-growing minority group in Britain. And yet we are stifled by a lack of language to describe ourselves. I first realised this in my early 20s, reckoning with the past. As a Welsh-French-Scottish-American-Indian-Mauritian, when I was growing up I had no word that defined me apart from “mixed”, which felt less than ideal: it conjured up the image of two scoops of ice-cream melting in a bowl.

How about English? Or British? Which are not “racial” definitions in the slightest.

For example, me. I look, sound, act, am therefore, about as English as it is possible to be. Between the pair of my father and myself we qualified – ignoring such things as aptitude or skill – to play rugby for any of the four home nations, soccer for any of the five. My accent seems to be the English of the 1980s, my attitudes those of the 1780s. Step back a little more and there is Hugenot, Peruvian (definitely, whether that includes mestizo is dependent upon how racy that particular lady was and she was, indeed, very racy) and on. Like vast numbers of others there’s also that mix of Celt, Saxon, Norman and Viking in there.

Yet I am English – and while I don’t particularly like the term, British. The defining influences which make me what I am are of that country – thus that’s what I am.

So, why’s that not good enough for you, Honey?

Well, yes, OK, but the British…..

A mountain rescue team has been called up to Britain’s highest mountain to save a dog that refused to go any further.

Maggie, a 35kg Turkish Akbash dog, was unable to continue the descent from Ben Nevis with her owners because her paws were in pain.

The three women walking with the dog had tried carrying her down the 4,413ft mountain but were forced to admit defeat around the halfway mark.

Lochaber Mountain Rescue came to the dog’s rescue on Saturday night, despite already facing multiple callouts for other emergencies.

As the old saw goes, if it had been a kid it would have had to do it itself. Character building you know.

This is a common claim

Be interesting to know whether there’s anything to it or not.

Tom Daley has blamed “colonialism” for homophobic laws in place across the Commonwealth.

The Olympic diving champion stars in a new BBC documentary in which he visits “the most homophobic countries in the Commonwealth”, examining the claim that the British Empire left a legacy of anti-LGBT legal codes in post-colonial nations.

Daley has stated that one interview in the documentary, which will air on BBC One on Tuesday, opened his eyes to “where that homophobia stemmed from in the first place, and it is a legacy of colonialism”.

China never was colonised – nor Ethiopia, nor really Thailand. So, homophobia better or worse in those places?

And if we’re limiting ourselves to British colonies, is it worse in Nigeria than, say, Senegal? Or even, to equalise religious influences, Northern Nigeria and Senegal?

Heck, we could even talk about Arab and Mulsim colonialism if we wanted to.

But that initial contention. How much of whatever homophobia there is out there is a result of colonialism? And what’s the proof? We’ve a large enough data set to be able to glean some information, no?

So, taking the piss is now transphobia, eh?

Good luck with that idea with the English:

A carnival has apologised for a float featuring men dressed as female Olympians following complaints that it was “transphobic”.
However, one of the carnival floats this year has prompted outrage as it was adorned with signs which said “of course we are female – we sit down to pee!” and another which said the float operators were part of the “Olympics 2024 women’s 100m final”. It was an apparent mocking of transgender athletes being allowed to compete in women’s sports.

Donna Landy, a transgender comedian who attended the carnival, said: “When I caught up with the float and read the sign my heart sank, it was clearly mocking trans athletes in sport and by extension all trans people.”

Mocking? Sure, but then folk are allowed to do that. And they will too. Folk will mock everything and do too.

The Home Guard

From the Frank Williams obituary:

“There were one or two episodes where it’s clear it’s a serious business,” he said. “And the last episode [Never Too Old, broadcast on Remembrance Sunday, 1977] is quite moving. They all drink a toast to the Home Guard and you get this sense these funny old men would have died for their country if they had to.”

As someone once put in the comments here. Those tens of thousands of old men knew, absolutely, that if the invasion came they’d die as a result. Yet they all still turned up in church halls the country over.


But touting the “return” of imperial units to shops is just disastrously retrograde. The logistical burden it would place on supermarkets could lead to increased prices at a time when many household budgets are already stretched thin, while polls show that younger generations are increasingly happy with metric measures. By kindling this debate, Johnson and the Conservative party have certainly keyed in to an emotive and overlooked aspect of our history. But the return of imperial measures is simply unfathomable.

It is optional. It gives us that thing that market choice always does give us – greater utility. Those that don’t care don’t care, those that do, either way, get to have their preference seen to. Utility is always personally defined, so now more people get to have their utility increased – we are richer as a result.

Simply the freedom to use one or the other, Imperial or metric, is wealth enhancing.

Now, there is still that place for weights and measures and all that. A claim that 1 kg does mean that it has to be 1 kg, that of a lb that it is a lb. There’s still that role for defining what kg, lb, fathom and furlong actually are. But who should use what, why and when, that’s not in fact something that needs to be determined by the state in the first place.

Err, Yes?

The Nobel laureate Abdulrazak Gurnah has said he suspects the British empire is “still important in Britain” and may well have played a part in the Brexit vote.

The author, 73, born in Zanzibar, told the audience at the Hay festival that he believes there was a sense of “we can go alone, because we’ve done it before” among voters in the 2016 referendum.

Even if such views may no longer be expressed through “flag waving” or “s

houting”, Gurnah said he thought that subconscious imperial attitudes affect the way many in Britain think.

Nations do have a culture, a shared set of assumptions about the world. Said assumptions are influenced by history. So the surprise here is what?

Only a small thought

But has Aaronovich ever considered the one little fact:

In a 180-page screed written to accompany his massacre he alluded to his belief that something called “The Great Replacement” was taking place, in which American whites were being supplanted by people of other colours and ethnicities. This, he believed, had to be resisted.

I won’t name him and in any case he was just the latest in a bloody line of white men who, in various countries over the last decade, have murdered the innocent in the name of stopping this non-existent threat to the white race.

He’s saying this in a country where 14% of the population is foreign born. That is a hell of a change and it’s a recent one. And, well, whadda ya mean no one’s allowed to muse on it?

To counter Polly’s argument

The need for an elected president has become urgent

Polly wants the monarchy gone. So, who should – OK, more importantly, who would the President be? Given that power would still reside with the PM it would be a kicked upstairs job for the second raters. John Prescott. He would have been Blair’s appointment/candidate.

We both need and will have someone to pin the VC on folk. And even Chuck’s a better choice for that than anyone who would get elected.

O Tempora, O Mores

Actually, this is very English indeed:

Social media stars including Jodie Marsh and five ex-Love Islanders including Francesca Allen are to be subjected to a name and shame Instagram campaign by the UK’s advertising watchdog for continuing to flout social media marketing rules.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), which issued a final warning to 122 UK-based Instagram influencers over repeatedly failing to tell followers when they were paid to promote products in posts, has resorted to using the social media platform to highlight their behaviour to users.

So instead of chiding birds for looking like low paid slags, tits oot fer the lads, the formal admonition is that they are engaging in trade. Far worse, dontcha know?

How archaically English….


BBC should play God Save the Queen every day, say ministers
Culture minister endorses calls for daily dose of national anthem – but proposal is ridiculed online

We’re British, we don’t do that. The reason we don’t do that is because we’re British. What is it about simple truisms that people have such difficulty with?

It’s a fairly obvious joke and yet

The real point here is to non-native English speakers.

That’s a very, very, calmed down Cornish accent. Adjusted so that folks outside the county have even a hope of understanding it.

Most will know what Geordie, or Cockney, sounds like. But that we’ve got all three – and many, many more – in the one small country explains that BBC accent. It’s the only damn way we can understand each other.

There is something so Northern about this

Yet when an Italian television company wanted to fly him to Rome he turned them down. “I was all of a bloody tremble,” he said, adding that not only had he never flown, but he had only left Lancashire once, on a day trip to London for a brass-band contest.

The sort of tale that has me expecting Peter Tinniswood to start shouting – No, it’s just a story!”.

I mean really, it would be for a brass band contest, wouldn’t it?

And this. Wasn’t Philip just the boy?

He never escorted the Queen, his ultimate employer, across the sands, but the Duke of Edinburgh’s visit was a highlight. “Once we set off, he asked me a lot of questions,” he told Lancashire Life. “As we were coming to the other end of the bay there was a crowd gathered and they all started applauding. The duke said, ‘Stand up Mr Robinson, it is you they are clapping, not me’.”


Our high commissioner to Australia, Vicki Treadell, has, presumably on instructions from No 10, told the Aussies (big coal exporters) that they should be doing much more to cut their emissions; and that, if they didn’t, “that would not be acceptable”. For her pains Treadell has been described as “a sanctimonious bore” by what are described as “Australian government sources”. They went on to accuse the Queen’s representative of “repeatedly overstepping the mark on climate change by giving us lectures on what our sovereign domestic policy should be”.

High Commissioners are the reps for the government. Governors General are the reps for the Queen.


How distinctly un-British


The publishers of a best-selling children’s book by David Walliams are to remove a character named “Brian Wong” after criticism that it represented casual racism.

Brian Wong, Who Was Never, Ever Wrong is a story in Walliams’s compendium, The World’s Worst Children.

Georgie Ma, a writer and podcaster, criticised the book on social media earlier this year, saying: “There are so many racist jokes on the east and southeast Asian community with the surname Wong and associating it with ‘wrong’.

“I don’t have enough time to go through what kind of jokes these are but if David Walliams would have done his research, he would have known this,” Ms Ma wrote.

We’re British, you stupid damn cow. We make jokes about everything. Most especially about peoples’ names. It’s one of our cultural traits. Not grasping that marks you out as that most terrible, non-lottery winning ticket holder, thing; un-British.



Clive of India was no sociopathic thug, but a British self-made success story

They say that like there’s something wrong with being a sociopathic thug. Which is something Brits have been notably good at over the centuries.

Britain cut off from Kernow

Trains cut off from Cornwall after Tesco lorry hits railway bridge
No trains able to enter county on Tuesday, with Network Rail warning delays and cancellations may last into Wednesday

Come along now, as with fog in channel, we’ve got to get this the right way around. It is poor, poor, Britain which is unable to access Cornwall…..