With the summer drawing to a close here in the UK and the weather changing for generally unpleasant to worse (alright, this is a slight exaggeration) there are more of these cold and dark days when we are genuinely wondering what we are still doing on this island. Or, as a matter of fact, why we ever came here.

Let’s face it, if we would put together a list of the greatest places to live, the United Kingdom would probably not make the Top Ten. Or maybe it will? This is a very interesting country that does take a while to embrace. And we won’t even try to understand it fully…

For example, there is the very common misunderstanding about the British and their sense for tradition. To me, the Germans do embrace tradition much stronger. When you visit Munich you will realise that ‘Janker‘ (a traditional Bavarian jacket) and ‘Haferlschuh‘ (which are brogues that do go with the ‘Janker‘) are pretty common amongst the Bavarians (and we’re not talking about wearing ‘Lederhosn‘ when visiting the ‘Wiesn‘, which is how the indiginous call the Octoberfest). On the other side, the only ‘national costume’ the English wear are their football colours. And while here on the island everybody is opposing the Euro as it would destroy Britain’s national identity, nobody wonders that there’s a Starbucks on every second corner….
But then again, you might define ‘tradition’ the way Ephraim Kishon did: A system designed to avoid that the children can surpass their parents. In plain English that reads as: ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it“. Ever since the invention of the steam engine and the great Industrial Revolution not much progress has been made in the United Kingdom (with the exception of the Dyson vacuum cleaner of course!). If you want to wash your hands you’re very likely still forced to move your hands quickly between the tap for hot and the one for cold…
Some things sometimes change, but not always for the better. Victorian houses have solid walls and weak floors (and were purposefully designed to toughen the inhabitants against the elements by not overprotecting them against those). Modern houses on the other hand have solid floors but the walls are a different matter. Cables, by the way, still like to run over the wall rather than inside…

And since we’re talking about things we simply don’t understand, what’s all that fuzz about privacy? First, the people here like to hide their house numbers, so nobody can find them unless exact instructions have been given. Then, people would start a riot if they would ever be forced to carry a form of identity with them (which would help by reducing the serious problem of identity theft). But nobody complains that there are more CCTV cameras pointing at them than in any other country in the world…

So, where does that lead us, except for feeling really cold and miserable in winter? Well, we would say it makes this nation a bunch of loveable, quirky folks with a good sense of humour and pragmatism! While the Germans just polish their classic cars, the British drive them. Even without a roof in the rain.

Let’s face it, this ‘climate’ is not just good for growing tomatoes and strawberries, it’s good for amateur car builders (thanks to the SVA), it’s good for events like the Goodwood Revival and it’s good for bringing classical music to the people at the PROMS. By the way, did anybody notice how many national and semi-national anthems the Britsh have? Let’s begins with Edward Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1 (Land of Hope and Glory), continue with Thomas Arne’s Rule, Britannia!. Then we conclude with Hubert Parry’s Jerusalem and then of course the official British national anthem.

Admittedly, the weather is a sore point. Other than that, we honestly believe that Great Britain actually is a great place to live. God save the Queen!

  • Date Posted - 13. September 2011
  • Key Words - Opinion