Invader Stu's stranger's impression of Brussels (here) made me wonder what was peculiar about Britain, and what made expatriate bloggers seem somehow less critical of their places of residence than UK bloggers are of theirs. And I realised that what is most peculiar about Britain is that we are all pissed off, almost all the time, about just about everything.
We are pissed off with the government, and we are pissed off with the opposition. We are pissed off with fighting other people's wars for brownie points from Bush, who also pisses us off. We are pissed off with our jobs. We are pissed off with the weather. We are pissed off with the education system, the examination system and most of the products of these. We are pissed off with the NHS; council tax; the BBC; reality TV; Simon Cowell; traffic; telephone masts; development; the cost of the Olympics; the police; depletion of fish stocks; the TV licence; refuse collections; foot and mouth; bird flu; blue tongue; chavs; dog poo; Celebrity Strictly Come Dancing X Factor Idol Academy; all television programmes involving house purchase, house decoration, antiques, cooking and child-rearing in any combination; boy bands; Simon Cowell; Ann Widdecombe; the nanny state; lying politicians; the flimsiness of bin bags; the postal service; mobiles on trains; mobiles in shops; foreigners with loud voices; baby buggies; hoodies; gangsta rap; the way Blair walks; anyone who says 'It's time to move on'; EC regulations banning Bombay duck; EC regulations full stop; all government ministers; George Galloway; Tony Banks; fly tipping; gum on pavements; in-car-deodorants; the ending of analogue TV; auditory bird scarers; 'Baby on Board' signs and each other.
We are one pissed-off nation. It's no wonder we have a reputation for whingeing. (Although if the Aussies were over here, I bet they'd be whingeing fit to bust before you could say 'toss us a tinny'). I think this overcrowded, overworked, underpaid country could be edging towards some kind of unstable, critical mass of pissed-offedness. And I don't think the government's obsession with taxing and banning our consoling vices in order to encourage us to live longer so that we have to work longer to pay for living longer and getting even more pissed off is going to help exactly.
We really need to rethink the aspirations by which we measure human progress and elect governments. A philosophy of perpetual economic growth isn't making us happier, and it isn't making this crowded island a better place to live. Who needs 150 inch, flat screen, 4x4, tumble drying iPhones anyway? We should start passionately protecting and enhancing our quality of our life instead, like our quality of life depended on it.
Wow. I feel better for that. Happy Christmas!