The French ‘Devise’ is well known to all those who have ever studied any aspect of French history. The three principles upon which the republic are founded are engraved into the very soul of the nation: liberté, égalité, fraternité (Freedom, Equality, Brotherhood). And these three principles are easy to see in action in everyday France:
- Freedom: The French will park wherever they like, let their dogs poop wherever they like and say whatever they like (which we British regard as quite simply rude!).
- Equality: Every Frenchman is born equal, more or less. i.e. there are no lords and ladies here.
- Brotherhood: How else would you explain French protectionism and the socialist model?
The result is a country that has patriot citizens from the wind swept Brittany coast to the sun drenched Cote d’Azur, each and every man easily identifiable by his belief in the founding principles of republic.
But what does Britain have? The Magna Carta. That’s it. A crusty old document that says the King (of England) will mind his own business. Hardly a rallying point for the common man now is it? No wonder the break up of the UK is fast approaching.
So, if we had to create our own British ‘Devise’ or motto if you will, what three words would sum up the British? Here’s a suggestion:
- Property: From the national obsession with owning a little patch of the planet to youth ‘Bling’ culture, Britain cannot hide it’s love affair with money
- Celebrity: The middle classes aspire to become Lords and Ladies, the working classes aspire to become Big Brother contestants, and the British press would not survive otherwise.
- Nostalgia: As a nation we are are haunted by the past; by the 1966 football World Cup; by the Empire; by Churchill, Nelson, Brunel, Newton, Darwin, Logie-Baird; by the Act of Union. And we’ll whinge and whine, until the cows come home, about just how good things used to be.
Okay, I’ll admit it’s a bit damning, and to be honest I wasn’t entirely sure whether ‘Humour’ should have been the third word; but when you think about it, the cornerstone of British humour is satire. Which is to say, our entire sense of humour is based on our own failings as a nation, which is just another way of whinging if you ask me.
So there you have it: your average Brit (as far as I’m concerned) will be a home-owning, Daily Mail-reading, whinger. Am I wrong?