Wednesday 3 February 2010: Gonnae No!
Despite media inventions and public perceptions to the contrary, here in the UK we live in a pretty permissive society.
You can: say almost anything you want without being immediately rounded and banged up; sleep with whoever, of whatever sex, you want (save children); women can be educated, and drive, and walk down the street unaccompanied; anyone can stand as an MP if they wish without fear of having a barely controlled mob set on them with large sticks; you CAN still do daftly dangerous things like riding a bike down a ridiculously steep and rock-strewn hill or jump out of an airplane with a bit of fabric providing your brake; you can read what you want on the internet, or in a book, or in a magazine; the television news can, if they so desire, actually tell us the truth and inform us of what is really going on; you can photograph more or less where you want without hassle (save for, maybe, train stations).
We are not becoming an Islamic state by osmosis. We are not a Polish enclave (and consider this, most of the Poles here are working and contributing something to this society; a lot of the Brits that foreigners come across in their own country are boozed-up and rowdy, which would you prefer?). Smoking in a pub is not a basic human right. The grand grand majority of benefit frauds in the country are not foreign. Terrorists are not that likely to blow you up, and indeed are less likely now in the UK than they were when they were Irish. Health and safety is not a bad thing in principle, and seriously, how can the Daily Wail shout about health and safety gone mad on one page, then state that cyclists who don't wear helmets deserve to suffer head injuries on the next? 'Political correctness gone mad' is not an intelligent argument to use when faced with something you don't agree with, so please come back when you've actually thought of something interesting to say rather than declaring to the world that you don't actually understand what is going on.
Put down the Daily Wail. Switch off BBC Breakfast. Stop swallowing every little pernicious mistruth that is fed to us and believed en masse. Because y'know what? The UK is fucking great.
Sure Sweden has better roads - you should see the level of their taxes. Other countries, by accident of latitude, have better climates. Some have hurricanes and earthquakes and volcanoes. The health service here is creaking, so would we be better off paying for it like they do in the States? I'm unlikely to get killed to death by a spider or snake or shark or hippo or tiger in the UK. I'm less likely to be shot than in most of Africa or the US. We don't have Eastern European power cuts.
But think of it in this simple way the next time you're complaining about the UK. You're allowed to complain. Think of that as a good thing at the very least.
(this may or may not have been sparked by something considered a 'joke' that was read to me, involving Barack Obama and Gordon Brown each getting to see the future of their countries and Obama being told that the US came out great with a wonderful man in charge; whereas Brown couldn't read his future because it was all in Arabic)