Conversations dictated my day today; there was a conversation with my Bulgarian mate, who I met at Ealing Broadway this afternoon, there was a conversation with a colleague who normally works at Ningbo Nottingham in China and there was a conversation with another colleague, who I am sharing the second marking for the exam projects with.
The common thread throughout the conversations was what a shit hole England is. Now, that might be because all three of us normally live elsewhere, the Bulgarian in Bulgaria, the one colleague in China and the other colleague in Argentina and me in Germany. It might also be because the two colleagues and I are living on campus in a little room with a shower and my Bulgarian mate is living with four other Bulgarians in a flat in Balham. However, isn’t this “Blighty” so full of huff and puff?Yes, they have borrowed the blarney from the Irish and turned it into spin and borrowing is what they are good at, isn’t it? Half of a country on the minimum wage and almost all of them living on the never, never! A wee bit like their football team; 1966 and all that and never, never again. Still, we all like a moan don’t we and maybe, just maybe, I am a little bit too much like the allusion in Kipling’s ditty who can only see the putty, brass and paint;
If England was as England seems
And not the England of my dreams
But only putty, brass and paint
I’d chuck her
But she ain’t
Still, the sub-heading on Philip Pan’s book springs to mind; “The Struggle for the Soul of a New China” and is there anyone out there struggling for the soul of this little island that has such an inflated view of its own place in the world? It might be that that struggle was already lost after Margaret Thatcher came to power in 1979. Indeed, in retrospect, one of her achievements was Tony Blair and New Labour and with their ascent to power in 1997 the working class along with real critical thinking might have had its final “hurrah”.