An interesting article in BBC online today, discussing what it actual means to be British. For me at the moment it means trying to work out how to make mince pies without forking out $5 for a jar of mincemeat from Myers of Keswick, or buying their individual mince pies at $1.50 a pop (even if they are infinitely superior to Tea and Sympathy’s similarly priced offering). It transpires from a quick search of the web that mincemeat takes at least two weeks to ferment, plus it also requires suet – another Brit-only ingredient that I would have to buy from Myers of Keswick anyway. Maybe next year I’ll get my act together in time to do that!
So what else defines ‘Britishness’ to me? Sense of humour or self-deprecation. TV without adverts. Old children’s shows like the Flumps and Bagpuss. Windy, over-crowded roads that everyone drives along like they’re at the Grand Prix. Rugby. Marmite and all the other types of jams and preserves we thrive on. Fish and chips, and not the soggy, soft shite they do at Salt and Battery here in New York – but cheap, solid white fillet and big chips just about less than solid in the middle. Appreciation of a well thought out and fair queuing system. Cheering for the underdog, or Richard Branson even if he is actually quite successful, but only because he’s had his fair share of dramatic fuck ups. Cheeky chaps like Robbie Williams, and darker ones like Michael Caine. Celtic roots. Hiking wonderful green hills and mountains with dark forbidding clouds constantly gathering ahead of you. The Queen mum, but mostly for her love of horse racing and being a right old character. Formulaic ‘old style’ pubs and the wonderful feeling you get just after actually finding a proper old pub but before you get stared down by the locals.
That’ll do for starters anyway.