If the British excel at anything, its thinly veiled references to fucking. But in our defense, we had to focus our powerful, yet sensual, national energy into something other than marching into someone else’s country and taking all their tea or cardamom. Especially since that kind of thing became a bit outmoded. But since we can’t realistically spend all our time watching Kenneth Williams or George Formby come up with cute synonyms for banging, we fill the rest of our time whining. Also rugby, I suppose.
As a nation, we’ve narrowed the art of complaining down to a sleek, delicate little dance—the rustle of a newspaper, the derisive snort rippling across the milky surface of a cup of Yorkshire tea, the tedious stereotyping—all I’m saying is there’s a reason so many people declared war on us throughout history.
Despite our inherent negativity though, we remain a generally courteous people. Not given to especially public acts of intolerance or criticism, unless you’re in a pub and badmouth the local football team, in which case, fuck that. But otherwise, we mask the ubiquitous undercurrent of hatred with that stutterey, oafish charm absolutely no one who’s ever been to war with us falls for, with one exception of course.
Stoicism is one of the great, surviving philosophical creeds of modern Britain, which is why the typical things other nations and indeed our own yokels with no capacity for self-reflection think we despise just don’t hold true. Take queue-jumping, for example. Our most tedious standup comics discuss it all the time as some kind of anathema to British morality. And while we’re certainly never happier inwardly fuming at some tosser cutting in line at Starbucks with absolutely no sense of irony, no one ever does anything about it. It’s a tic. A pet hate. Whereas the following heinous crimes against our great United Kingdom generate genuine hostility.
1. Jimmy Savile
"Now then, now then. Eviiiiiillllll."
Before Jimmy Savile was outed as the unholy union between Hitler’s left and only bollock and Sauron’s ring finger in a test tube to the music of Gary Glitter, he was one of the nation’s most beloved and quoted entertainers. Needless to say, the second he was in the ground the allegations began. And it was a tragically textbook case of ethical advertising. Politicians and personalities fell over themselves in desperate attempts to condemn his actions firstest and hardest:
"Pedophilia is the worst crime in the world!" the entire world commented.
"And I’d also like to go on record as saying malaria and Hitler and a colossal meteor made of butt cancer smashing into NW London would all be bad things! We say no! The shockwaves created by the impact of a meteor made of butt cancer is not, I repeat not, an acceptable way for good British people to go!"
Not to undersell the obvious horrors of child molestation, but morality isn’t some kind of sliding scale with Nelson Mandela at one end and Jimmy Savile at the other. It was just the blind eagerness of everyone unconnected to him shamelessly milking it that was upsetting. But not nearly as upsetting as the fact that these same allegations had been going for decades and just mothballed.
Speaking as a cynic (the only way I do anything, apparently), the worst thing about the media’s furious and universal demonization of this terrible sex criminal is that none of our comics are allowed to imitate him anymore. Es-fucking-specially on a show aired by the BBC. That’s like a ban on American comedians making gay jokes about Phil Collins because it was discovered he was into unisex grave-robbing. Or jokes about Republicans eating babies because their poll predictions are actually based on kindergarten necromancy. You’re pulling maybe half of an entire nation’s comic material.
2. The French / 3. The Germans
"Oui. Je suis le Francaise typique. Voulez-vous coucher avec moi, ce soir? You detestable, tea-drinking, food-ruining, boilerplate sheep-fucker? Oh, désolé, I mean, madame?" [Translation: "I will never forgive you for Agincourt."]
Britons have been in more wars than Fox News, but with a success rate that I’m not embarrassed as an actual historian to find makes me a little tumescent. Granted, my field was "Imperial Rome and its transition to the Western center of Catholicism" but to anyone still awake reading this, a tightness in the trouser is a natural result of national pride. I’m not going to lie. I love the fact that Britannia really did use to rule the waves. Mostly. If weren’t for those pesky French and Dutch and Portuguese and so on.
But herein lies a strange paradox. We, at least politically, denounce imperialism and warmongering! All up in imperialists’ faces! Take that, despots of the world! Forgetting, please, how much of that shit we were up to pre-conclusion of WWII. But we don’t stand for any of that nonsense these days. No sir! Right up until the moment someone mentions old Bones-Apart Napoleon and we grin knowingly to ourselves, thinking: "Damn right, France. Try that kind of shit again. Please. It would make our day. We’re only too happy to get the dusty old cane out of the cupboard and give you a damn good thrashing all over again." In the international community, we’re Clint Eastwood and you’re the bank robbing punk.
We glorify our military victories over France and Germany so much you’d think it was some kind of centuries-old competition and it would be, if we could get those fuckers over the Channel to care about it. And that’s the ultimate reason we hate those guys: we beat them. In our heads, they’re foaming over it. Livid, that a tiny island mostly comprised of swamp and inbreeding with the cultural elegance of cattle rape and a cuisine of same could best the homeland of Charlemagne and the Holy Roman Empire and glorious Prussian kingdoms. But they don’t. They could give a toss. And that irks us like you would not believe.
Sure, we justify our dislike of our most immediate continental neighbors with more superficial reasons, like our general image of the French as lazy, alcoholic cowards riddled with hideous, flesh-eating STIs, but I think we’d forgive them all that if they declared war on us again or we could just beat them at football.
4. Morris Dancing
I’ll admit that I came into this draft knowing absolutely that I’d be plonking Morris dancing down here somewhere and yet equally certain I know absolutely nothing about it.
I still don’t know anything about it, except that, trust me, we can’t stand it.
5. The Daily Mail
In the spirit of honesty, I actually do read The Daily Mail, a newspaper written for intolerant nutbars destined to one day patrol the docks at Folkestone with a sniper rifle. And that single admittance just instantly lowered my sexual capital with any British woman more liberal than fucking Galactos with an audible clunk. But I read it because it’s hilarious. However, if I was an actual advocate of The Daily Mail, this article would be entirely different.
With entries like lowering house prices, benefit fraud, brown people, terrifying livestock diseases carried by brown people and all the ways those disease-ridden brown people are going to sneak into the country disguised as blue-collar furniture, the whole article would have sounded like a paranoid right-wing shut-in screaming for help from his bomb-proof basement because he spilt his canned chili. Or at least, more so.
You may not think multicultural tolerance is something a decent person would have to learn and you may also have heard that Inuits have more than twenty words for "snow" and while that isn’t strictly true, it is that The Daily Mail have more than 70 words for "immigrant" and you pronounce every one of them with a blood-curdling scream.