Monday, April 23, 2007

Happy Birthday, Will.

“This royal throne of kings, this scepter'd isle,
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
This other Eden, demi-paradise,
This fortress built by Nature for herself
Against infection and the hand of war,
This happy breed of men, this little world,
This precious stone set in the silver sea,
Which serves it in the office of a wall,
Or as a moat defensive to a house,
Against the envy of less happier lands,
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England.”

Well, it’s Will’s birthday and I thought I could get away with plagiarising him a bit – he’s out of copyright and it’s St. George’s Day.
I believe when he wrote the above he was thinking of Skegness where he had just spent a long weekend with Anne Hathaway and, as you all know, any weekend in Skegness seems like a long one. Bored with scrabble, he wrote the lines that have inspired the British for years. If only they could still be applied to the Britain I visited last week.
Mind you, I felt honoured by the number of times I was photographed by the CCTV cameras, knowing that my every move was being monitored by some faceless operator to ensure that I was behaving myself. Even the bus drivers could watch me closely as I rode on the top deck, courtesy of modern technology. It seems to have been of little avail in the fight against vandalism since the windows of several of those I rode on had been scratched and defaced. I suppose it was unreasonable to have him stop the bus to prevent it and, with the level of violence all around, he was probably wise to ignore it.
But the most surprising thing I noted during my visit was the incredible interest that the media were exhibiting in our French primary elections. I’m not too sure that the man in the street, that well known eponymous character, has quite the same burning curiosity.
It seems that in France we are depressed, despondent and desperate for a change. Our economy is on the skids and the whole nation is sunk in gloom and despondency – or so the papers would like you to believe.
But from talking to the citizens of that sceptr’d or septic isle, it would seem that it is Britain and Britons who are desperate for a change. Like most developed nations, the French have a problem with immigration. For some reason, many immigrants worldwide refuse to adopt the mores of their host country, insist on imposing their own way of life and complain loudly and bitterly that they are being victimised when the indigenous peoples object to seeing their own lifestyle being eroded.
It seems likely that our new president will be M. Sarkozy and it is hard to fault his much criticised description of the rioting Parisian immigrants as “rabble.” He was perfectly correct and it is the sort of stance appreciated by many. Even the not much loved communist, M. Le Pen, was received warmly when he said “France, love it – or leave it.”
And on St. George’s Day, it would seem to me that the British could do with something of the same spirit, the spirit that Shakespeare encapsulated in those lines from Richard II.
As a French commentator pointed out, not many French buy houses in Britain and it’s not only due to the weather.
I suppose the reason the media love to criticise France is that when you have a government as corrupt as the British seem to have got themselves at present, it’s a relief to look elsewhere. But our trains run on time and for a realistic fare, our health system is wonderfully good, law and order still prevails – and the Ryanair flights to France are stuffed full of Brits who have either purchased houses here or are intending to do so.
Happy St. George’s Day.



Post a Comment

<< Home