Have you ever been to America? Notice anything different? Of course you do. Everything’s a lot louder, bigger, and more likely to send your cholesterol through the roof. And that’s just their politics. One of the most prominent disparities between our two nations however, is that Americans love to shag their flag. It’s everywhere – outside houses, on their roofs, outside bakeries, offices and on doughnuts and badges.
Us Brits are a little more reticent. The Union Jack isn’t great when seen anywhere aside from draped around Geri Halliwell in 1996, and the England flag even worse – I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen it other than in the twitter handle of a man who tells women they’re lying on the internet. So when it was leaked to the Guardian this week that after extensive research on how to claw back those voters, Labour want to be seen to be more patriotic and flag-bearing, you could almost hear the collective sigh from the rest of us.
I know they’re trying to reclaim the ground the Tories snapped up in the last election on promises of choosing our own bedtime or whatever Brexit enthusiasts voted for, but this isn’t the way to do it. Staff were allegedly told to “prioritise the Union Jack header images, not the plain red ones” on email headers. Sigh.
The reason so many of us have cultural and national guilt about being English is because we’ve been bastards to pretty much everyone for pretty much forever, and now half the country seems to have fallen into the trap of thinking that there was some sort of golden era of Britain. Every generation thinks their youth was the golden era, but here’s the secret: it’s because you were young and the world was built for you. Plus, you probably had no kids. The lovely paradox about modern Britain is the things that are actually British have come from people all over the world: we’re a big melting pot of food, culture, traditions and moans.
We are a good country (there’s a lot of them about) but here’s what Kier and the gang should be reminding us of instead of the antiquated notions of flags, empire, wars and honouring the past. The things that makes any nation – any community, any group – have a sense of belonging are the smaller things that show none of us are perfect.
Sitcoms that actually end
We produce some of the funniest people in the world (as a comedian, I would say that) but even better than that, we know when to actually call it quits. What do The Office, Fleabag, Gavin & Stacey, Fawlty Towers and Pulling have in common? That’s right – all of them quit while they were ahead. Even Only Fools and Horses had a definite end. No we’re not counting those weird follow-up episodes a few years ago. Americans, on the other hand, like to ensure their sitcoms dilute by the series and will be the only things still alive with the cockroaches when the asteroid finally hits.
Starting affairs at boozy office parties
I’m aware people in every country have affairs, but the repressed nature of The Brit means that it’s only when plied with illegal levels of company comped booze that we can ever muster up the courage to ruin our lives with that bloke from HR or the woman who holds the weekly targets meeting. Not once has the office the morning after ever been gossip-free. In Europe they simply tell someone they liked them. Can you imagine?
A Friday night curry and/or kebab
If you’re staying in, it’s the former; if you’ve even set foot in a pub that night, it’s the latter. Have you ever been to a kebab shop sober? It’s like setting foot in night of the living dead. Nobody can communicate, the kebab shop staff deserve a medal for their translation skills and there’s always someone crying outside.
Aka Professor Sprout in Harry Potter, aka hilariously potty mouthed offence machine. Just watch her best bits on The Graham Norton Show. If you can get through it.
The half-smile-half-grimace at someone you’ve made eye contact with on the Street
Half a second too long and your face automatically contorts into that sort of physical manifestation of the word “sorry!” before you scurry past.
A strange boy with bad teeth from south London became the coolest rock star in the world. Plus, the world has been going to shit since the second he left the realm. If Starmer dressed smartly and put together a big gig of Bowie’s hits, he might get that landslide we’ve lost sight of.