When I got the word that I was admitted to the MGK Legion of Super-Bloggers (Check it out! Shiny new flight ring!), I thought long and hard about what I could bring to this mightiest of blogs that it didn’t already have.
It was while adjusting my knickers in the lift on the way back from the petrol station that the thought hit me like a runaway lorry: “Bloody hell– I’m in Britain! Right then, let’s knock out a huge pile of bollocks about that.”
This is, after all, the nation that spawned Alan Moore, David Lloyd, Neil Gaiman, Bryan Talbot, Warren Ellis and Paul Cornell into the world– to say nothing of Terry Pratchett. And everything they say about Britain is marvellously, disgustingly true.
However, disconcerting things have been happening here of late. A scant ten years ago, we were all scandalised by the Lord Chancellor’s announcement that he would now wear trousers rather than breeches and stockings. Word on the street was: Dude, you make over £200,000 of our money per year. You wear what we tell you to wear. Also, you fight crime! Have the grace to do it in tights!
And now, we hear that people who speak with the Queen — for example, to thank her for doing such a fine job as Canada’s head of state– no longer have to exit the room walking backwards. This would be fine if the reasoning behind it were “The Queen is an adult and can cope with seeing people’s butts. Indeed, she rather likes them. The only butt with which she has hitherto been familiar is the Duke of Edinburgh’s, and quite frankly, it no longer amuses her.” But no: they’re changing it because they’re afraid they might get sued if some idiot injures themselves. People have been moonwalking out of royal audiences since the bloody Magna Carta, and has anyone sued yet? Of course not! Anyone idiotic enough to reveal that they fell on their arse in Buckingham Palace, let alone launch a lawsuit about it, doesn’t deserve to call themselves British.
Even if you did sustain serious injury while backing slowly away from the Queen (hands where she can see ‘em, Canuck), we do have a National Health Service in this country. This means that you and your dented posterior will be whisked away to the nearest hospital, where you will be kept waiting for ages, drooled upon by drunken maniacs, subjected to blankly unhelpful attitudes and finally either grudgingly patched up or left to die on a gurney– but it will be FREE. In America, you’d get a lugubriously worded letter from your insurance company listing the multitude of reasons why being left to die on a gurney isn’t covered, and now you are both dead and broke (congrats.)
For those who missed the most recent silliness: US right-wing rag Investors’ Business Daily says in an editorial [now heavily re-edited] that Stephen Hawking “wouldn’t have a chance in the UK” because apparently they’d have let him die in order to cut costs; multiple people point out that Hawking was in fact born in the UK and lives here; Hawking himself says the UK’s health system has done just fine by him, thanks. He’s 67, carries the entire cosmos around in his head, and is mightily, awe-inspiringly British.
For if there is one thing which defines the British character, it is endurance. Whether the thing endured be tights-induced discomfort, royal etiquette-induced arsebruises or the small matter of the next nation over being wankers to you for centuries, your British person will keep calm and carry on. That’s what got us through two World Wars, up Mount Everest and frozen into a stiff-upper-lip-flavour ice lolly somewhere near the South Pole. Mmm, tasty.
(Nota bene: when the Queen awards Chris his MBE for Services to Awesome, I recommend he exit the room backwards so that he can watch her weeping as he leaves.)