©Dan White. No repro of words or pictures without authorisation.
When it comes to the richness of global culture, justice, civilisation and recreation the English have contributed more than their fair share.
Democracy, for instance is an English invention despite what you might hear from some dodgy Greek. Whilst the French have had 327 different republics run by a shady procession of dictators, clerics and ne’er do wells, the English have a history of about three hundred years, of oppressing the general masses democratically. This tradition of consensual misery continues to this day. The English may have had some of the most horrendously stupid leaders in the history of the world (and still might), but at least they voted for them. Well that is apart from women, the poor and anyone who looked a bit foreign. But the general idea was there.
The Germans were a fractured bunch of neurotic angst-ridden serfs in bad hats suffering a justified identity crisis.
The French were….. er…. French. Liberte! Fraternite! Egalite!.. And the guillotine.
The Americans were so serious and po-faced about democracy that, until the 1960s, they entirely forgot to include huge numbers of people who came from the wrong continent under the wrong circumstances further compounding the error by killing them brutally if they had the nerve to speak their minds.
The original ‘Americans’ were, of course, fairly undemocratically, almost completely wiped off the face of the earth by lovers of freedom and enemies of oppression.
The Russians enslaved their own people until 1861 when serfdom was abolished and they reformed their ways magnificently by inventing a brand new kind of gulag.
The English also invented all organised sport. You may travel to the remotest villages of West Sumba and still be able to have a coherent discussion with a local on the merits of the 4-4-2 attack in last Saturday’s game between Sunderland and Rotherham.
If you manage to penetrate the inner sanctum of Taliban Islamic extremism you can go one of two ways. You can talk about the logistics of beheading the hated infidel, blowing up women and children for the general good, creating a global Islamic caliphate governed by a creed that generally involves lots of maiming …… Or alternatively you can get heated about changes in the LBW law and marvel at the historical beauty of an in-swinging yorker from Waquar Younis.
Whether it’s rugby, football or Cricket….. It all came from the same damp and grey place. Even in America they play diminished forms of English games. American football is just rugby with all the good bits taken out. Baseball is rounders played by people not in skirts with added gum-chewing and goatee beards thrown in for effect. Basketball is another schoolgirls’ game. It’s netball with added mobility. In Australia they play Aussie rules foot ball. It was invented by the English to provide exercise for soldiers leisure hours in winter when the weather was unsuitable for cricket.
Having invented all these sports (in addition to democracy) that amount to world domination in terms of fitness, skill, enthusiasm and gambling… It’s quite phenomenal that the English get beaten by everyone else when playing them….. No really…. After you.
When it comes to the achievements of this slightly depressing little country….. Even with all the footie….. the democracy….. Let alone the globally recognised international nature of importance by dint of language……. There is an elephant in the room…….
And the world winces in sympathetic embarrassment every mealtime.
English food…… What happened? Whilst France whistles up a thousand smug delicious soft cheeses, delicate and refined sources and dressings effortlessly derived from an incalculable range of local culinary traditions…… The English counter attack with equally ambitious culinary marvels.
Toast for instance. Very impressive.
Whilst the Spaniards, who despite their love affair with fascism and destroying most of the cultures of South America, can whip up a fantastic paella and use olive oil artfully at the drop of a hat.
The English answer with pies….. Marvelous.
Well that and the mighty sensual delight of pretty much anything deep-fried but slightly aged and cold.
The Italians may be generally useless at everything except creating trivial historical sidelines such as the Renaissance (pretty pictures!), but when it comes to filling the belly on a regular they have reason to be complacent.
The Americans are clueless and unoriginal when it comes to the kitchen but they have done a great job of providing dishes in such volume that obesity is seen as normal. That and asking endless questions. “Would you like fries with that?….. Which of these forty-two dressing won’t make you vomit?…… Would you like a long tall/short/wide latte?…….. Why are you beating your head rhythmically against concrete?”………
In Florida you could starve to death simply by feeling a little vacant when peckish and giving the wrong answer……. “Good choice!”
The English sitting in their benighted, grey, depressing little houses should thank the world for two important things when it comes to mealtimes.
B. That they are not Scottish. Those people eat offal.