England’s Waking #1 – Anger rising…

I’ve been writing a lot recently about folklore and the stories that helped to form Britain, or at least its ‘personality’. But then I got stuck for a subject – I nearly did a throwaway post about the guy who’s been hit six times by meteorites and is now blaming aliens for it. Fortunately Sudge came to the rescue and suggested this subject, because it’s all very well talking about what’s been created, the important thing for us, here and now, is what’s being created.

This fills me with some concern, because I’m not sure what to write about. I’m perhaps less confident in Britain’s future today than at any point in the past, just because things are looking… I’d say grim, but then I’m aware that some people are living in hellholes and they’d turn away in disgust at the suggestion that Britain’s struggling – comparatively speaking they’d be right.

But something’s not coming together. I’m probably being cynical here, but the big political idea of the moment, David Cameron’s Big Society, just seems to be an excuse to devastate the public sector (and when we’re talking about the public sector, let’s remember we’re not just talking about over-paid civil servants, we’re talking about schools and binmen and libraries and colleges and hospitals and law and order and fire brigades and…).

Then there’s celebrity culture. The latest cultural faeces to be pooped onto our TV screens is Celebrity Grimefighters. "There’s nothing better than watching celebrities out of their comfort zones," says an anonymous person who can’t even be bothered to put his name to this nonsense. Yes there is something better! Something like, I dunno, Sherlock, or Doctor Who, or somethng that’s been made by creative, talented people who actually give a damn! But no, because scripted drama in the UK is too expensive to make, which is why all the really big shows lately seem to be coming from America. Yes, America, who Britain always dissed for having rubbish TV. Well, karma’s gonna get ya, ain’t it?!

I’m sorry. You can wipe the spittle from your screens now. Just don’t get me started on the World Cup – I don’t even follow football, for goodness sake.

Anyway, I’m aware that stuff like this is making me bitter and cynical, and as I was already bitter and cynical, this probably isn’t a good thing.

So, what I want to do is find out where Britain is actually succeeding. Where cool stuff is going on, culturally, scientifically, socially, whatever. Because I think good stuff is out there, we just don’t talk about it enough – it’s not headline grabbing or controversial or scandalous. And that might take some digging, but it’s worth doing just because, well, it’s important to dwell on the better angels of human nature. Dwell on the apathy and the cynicism and you end up more screwed up than ever, and that ain’t good. Enough of England’s Sleeping, let’s see what Britain’s Waking will give us…


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