Monday, 11 July 2016

British people in hot weather

 A colleague at work remarked a few weeks ago that he only just learned that Scotland is a separate country.  This is something I've encountered quite a few times.  It really is no big deal.  I should mention that I had never heard of his home town:  as individuals we can't maintain all knowledge all the time in our human brains.  Some people I've met think Scotland is a region of England, some people think it is as far north as Norway, some might even think it is a fictional place where Shrek was born.  Scotland is a small country and I don't really expect the rest of the world to obsess over it.  I certainly don't expect anyone from outside the UK to be conversant in the complex differences between Great Britain, the British Isles, British Protectorates, British Overseas Territories or be able to quote legal text verbatim from the 1707 Acts of Union.  I do, however, expect English people to be able to differentiate between Scotland, England, and the UK.  After all, they had much the same educational opportunities that I had and I manage it.  I expect people who identify as patriotic to be particularly good at this:  if you describe yourself as an English or British patriot it would be best if you understand the political boundaries of your allegiances.

Meet Vince from Hull.  He voted to leave the EU.  He thinks Scotland is part of England.

Obviously, Vince is a first class clown.  I'll give him this, though: it is true that Scotland doesn't want to be part of England.  He's right on the button there.  Can't argue with that.  It is clear from the video that Vince particularly wanted to talk about Scotland.  Vince thinks he is knowledgeable about this and is confident in his opinion.  He has clearly asked the reporter for a chance to talk especially about his view on people living at a more northerly latitude.  Once again, Vince thinks Scotland is part of England.  Vince wants to build a wall to keep the Scots and the English separate.  By his own logic, he wants to build a wall to separate one part of England from another.  He seems to be in favour of internal borders redolent of Stalinist Russia.  I certainly know where I'd like to build an enormous, insurmountable wall.

Meet a representative of "Diamond Ring Specialist".  I'm afraid I don't know her name but she is a living, breathing human being that had the same educational opportunities that I had.  She thinks Britain is the same as England and uses these terms inter-changeably.  I doubt she has ever heard of the 1707 Acts of Union.

Now meet a man who doesn't understand the difference between Europe and the rest of the world.  I actually wonder if he even knows what country he currently lives in because he keeps referring to it merely as, "this country".  Perhaps anger has clouded his sense of geography.  This man voted us out of the EU because he doesn't want "muslims from Syria". Despite being broadly sympathetic to the founding principles of the EU he voted out anyway because he is raging mad at Africans.

If you want to blame someone for the current mess should we blame Vince?  Should we blame that representative from "Diamond Ring Specialists" or that angry man on the street who has mistaken the continent of Africa for the EU?  I don't know if we should, to be honest, but I feel like doing it anyway.  I want to match their anger at "foreigners" and "muslims" with my anger at them.  A key decision that will affect the rest of my life was swung by people like Vince from Hull; people who think Scotland is part of England; people who think England and Britain are the same; people who think the EU referendum was about immigrants from Africa; people who think the only freedom they can ever aspire to is the freedom to live without "foreigners" upsetting their delicate routine.

I am stupendously furious but I think I need to direct my anger elsewhere.  I don't think Vince actually had that much education.  Pointing out his ignorance doesn't really help anyone, unless Vince takes it upon himself to devote the remainder of his life to the pursuit of knowledge and universal truth.  I doubt if that angry man had much education either and the representative of "Diamond Ring Specialists" probably wouldn't work there if she had a PhD in genetics. Besides, the producers of these Vox Pops knew exactly how the respondents would come across.  It would be fair to say they were produced rather cynically - yeah, let's all laugh at the village idiots.  That doesn't help me finding someone to blame.  Right now, I really, really need someone to blame.  Well, who exactly has been in charge of education in England for the last 30 or so years?  Blame them. What have they been up to to produce such a lamentable shower of incurious individuals?  How can a country with some of the most prestigious universities in the world fail so dismally fail to educate its own people in the most basic aspects of civic life?  An alternative explanation is that the summer heat has melted their brains. 

Over and out,


PS That article on the Swiss situation really is brewing.  Patience is a virtue.  I know, I know, no one is reading this waffle. 

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