Thursday, 21 October 2010

On not causing a fuss

Seasoned commentators tell us, in concerned tones, that it is indeed kicking off over in France.  Although I guess the phrase 'kicking off' is probably not being used.

Well, OK, Sky News might use it.  I'll give you that one.

But the news that our nearest continental cousins have been protesting in the streets has caused more than one person to wonder if we'll see similar behaviour here in Britain.  The French have been up in arms about, amongst other things, proposals to increase the state retirement age over there from 60 to 62.  Coming in the same week that we hear the British equivalent is to increase to 66, can we see Brits manning the barricades and blockading fuel depots?

Well, probably not.  For one thing, we're not, well, French.  Bless them, but they are rather good at street protests.  It's almost a national pastime; I think they teach it in schools.

"Henri, come in now dear, you've got your placard-writing exam in the morning and your father and I haven't seen you doing nearly enough revising."

The nearest equivalent we have in Britain is tutting.  We're a nation of tutters.  We could have synchronised tutting as an Olympic sport in 2012 - we'd clear up.

Having to work longer for your pension?  Tut.
One in ten of your workforce at risk?  Tut.
Local library being closed down?  Tut.
Taxes rising.  Tut.  Maybe a sigh, if you're being particularly radical.

Has it always been like this?  Is the unwillingness to cause a fuss something that's hard-coded into the DNA?  There's quite a lot of British history to wade through - I know this from many a bored Wednesday afternoon at school trying to get excited about the repeal of the Corn Laws - but none of it seems to include much in the way of insurrections, uprisings or revolution.  Just a collection of sharply-worded letters to whoever's been in charge at the time.  We quite like sharply-worded letters.

But could we change?  I suspect not.  For a start off, we're all too polite.

"What do we want?  More consideration of our specific requirements, which we've outlined in this letter here.  When do we want it?  As early as is convenient.  If that's not too much trouble."

Hardly a cry to heat the blood, is it?

The other issue is that we're all a little too comfortable these days.  When people had nothing to lose, there was more of an imperative to demonstrate.  But now?  I can hardly see your typical urbanite storming the police lines, ciabatta loaf in hand.  We're all more concerned with Tesco Clubcard points than political ones.

So it seems as if we're a hopeless case, not wanting to cause a scene.  There doesn't seem to be anything that gets the masses suitably exercised.  In fact, if it wasn't for reality TV, many of us wouldn't get angry about anything at all.

Maybe I need to write a letter to somebody about this.

1 comment:

City Girl said...

I thought the British public appointed Simon Cowell and Jeremy Clarkson to express the collective discontent? Like MPs. They do all the harumping and shouting so you, Joe Citizen, don't have to. :o)

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