Saturday, 31 August 2013
As expected. There has been much chatter about Britain’s role in the world and about the supposed breakdown of the mythical ‘special relationship’ with the USA. So important are Britain’s ties with America that Barack Obama will simply go ahead and use somebody else instead as his political whipping boy. We may share a language – although ‘share’ is an interesting way to describe a wholesale massacre – but otherwise our common history is very much that; in the past.
For Britain and America, despite some superficial similarities – and to some parts of the world, that means bloodthirsty and interfering – are very different peoples. While Britain, until recently, was a largely homogenous culture of traditional and conservative values, the USA was always a bubbling pot of over-excited go-getters. The stereotypical portrayal of an American in British sitcoms was always that of an overly loud, socially gauche child with far too much money and self-confidence. I miss those days.
Anyway, it seems America has a new ami today – oh fickle friends – as it skips about the playground, hand in hand with La belle France. Oh, sorry, they've always been friends – ‘America’s oldest ally’ Obama says. Being British we will watch eagerly for the cracks to appear; this could be great fun. No more bullets whistling around our ears; we can just throw brickbats from the sidelines. It’s what we are exceptionally good at, although I think the establishment calls it diplomacy. If the USA thought that the British secretly looked down their collective nose at them, they are in for a treat with the preternaturally huge-schnozzed Francais.
We Brits hate people getting too big for their boots. Remember Sarah Beeny and her enormous house? Hands up how many of you secretly wanted her to fail? And the Grand Designers; isn’t the best bit when it all gets a bit too much for the budget and the nerves? An Englishman’s home is his castle, they say. Have you any idea how much it costs to run a castle? And then you have to employ people, who probably hate you for it. And you have to live the part too.
Soon, from what seemed like just another rung on the property ladder you’re chartering yachts you can’t afford to holiday with people you don’t really like but have to keep in with because your daughter’s internship depends on it. And if you want her to marry a prince she really has to be properly blooded, so she needs a horse for the hunt. And you simply must be seen at Ascot, Henley and Monaco. Suddenly your leap into the upper strata of society is a millstone round your neck as the east wing roof falls in, the scaffolding goes up and you have to relocate your annual summer bun fight to an expensive hotel. And… and... and it’s all gone horribly, expensively wrong.
Don’t you envy the ‘little people’, the ones with the simple honey-hued mellow stone walled cottages on the green? The ones who can live and let live because they live within their means? Being part of a great big club means you have to appease the great big club’s rules which, you soon find, are not for your benefit but for the furtherance of the club’s vainglorious ambitions.
When you finally, reluctantly sell the country pile and slide back down the social order don’t you feel the weight lifting from your shoulders? No more rigged blackballing at the golf club. No more sneers at unforgivable, yet trivial, social gaffes. And all that money you had to spend just to stay treading water. No more face to save, no more lies to defend. Ah, peace and quiet. You can keep up with the Joneses; it was keeping up with the Rothschilds that was the problem.
Yer, ah kno'
There is a YouTube video currently doing the rounds. It shows Barack Obama praising every country as being ‘one of America’s closest allies’ and telling all small countries that they ‘punch above their weight’. He has so much regard for these important friends that in order not to praise any of them above the others he just trots out the same old aphorisms time after time. So much for that relationship being in any way special. Great Britain? That was hard work. Little Britain sounds bloody good to me.