Thursday, 4 December 2008

Old England

I miss the country I grew up in. I had a happy childhood although things became a little difficult in my latter teens and early twenties. Even then I had no intention of living abroad but when I was given a fantastic opportunity in my late twenties to spend a little time in Hawai`i, I had no second thoughts. Who would? It was always going to be a temporary move anyway; experience life on a beautiful island in the middle of the Pacific, learn how astronomy is done at the coalface and then return two or three years later to the UK. Here I am, however, still on an a Pacific island twelve years later.

Why? I don't want to go back.

Although I still love my occasional trips back to the UK (and they are becoming rarer each passing year) I've seen my old country, a beautiful country if you know where to go, become more unpleasant each time I visit. In "The lunatics have taken over the asylum" I had a bit of a rant about the proposed ID scheme which I think is a terrible idea. That's not the main reason I don't want to go back home though - it's because the wonderful culture I grew up in is being lost at a frightening pace.

I often read "The Magistrate's Blog". I'm not entirely certain why, I've never had any interest in being a magistrate or being part of the justice system in any way, but it's a fascinating and very well-written blog that often describes how the dregs of the current UK society are dealt with in law. It was via that blog I came across an article about how the UK has changed for the worse over the years. It is biased, I'm sure, but if I was half as erudite as the author I may well have written something similar:

Theodore Dalrymple - The Quivering Upper Lip

PS. I apologise if someone steps on my foot. It's just the way I was brought up!


Zuzana said...

Tom, I can somewhat relate to what you are feeling. I spend almost a decade in the US and it was a very difficult time for me once I returned back to Europe. It took me, I think about 5 years to be happy living here again.

I am a child of emigrants and I have spent my childhood, youth and adulthood in different countries.
I have now reconciled wit the fact that I will never feel completely at home anywhere, but I can at least try.

I am happy that you found your home in the warm Pacific.

Steve said...

I am an American who has discussed this issue with several Brits. Many of them have told me independently about the declining civility of Britain and how they don't feel safe going back. I am completely sympathetic to that point of view. Were I in your shoes, I would probably stay abroad as well.

Another option, however, would be for all those British expats -- and there are millions -- to go back to England and fight for their culture and for common decency. You will be called terrible names simply for saying that you want your countrymen to behave better, but this American thinks the old British culture was the greatest in the world and is worth the fight.

Easy for me to say, I know. And again, I can't blame you. I just want the Old England back.

Tom said...

Protege - it's always interesting to hear the opinions of nomads! ;) I doubt I can ever call this place home but I'm much happier here than I was in the UK. I don't think I cold adjust if I had to go back to the UK, and unfortunately it's a possibility that might happen.

Steve - firstly, I'm proud to come from a culture that you think was the best in the world. That means so much to me. Thank you for such a wonderful compliment. I also think the USA isn't all that bad either! What I like about the people in the place I live is that they are similar to the people I grew up with. Everyone says hello to each other, gives a wave, holds the door open for another and on the whole treats everyone else with respect.

Secondly, I understand what you're saying about everyone going back and fixing the UK, but it won't happen and it can't. Obviously just organising something like that is impossible, but the UK culture changed a couple of decades ago, so now there is a generation of people (chavs) that think they are what made the UK great and if you don't agree they'll either beat the hell out of you or stab you. If you try and defend yourself, you'll likely get arrested and put in jail.

It's a diseased place. There are still wonderful places and people there, but for how long?

Keera Ann Fox said...

Well, I sit over here in Norway, and shake my head at the loss of my dear America - the one that didn't have road rage, or red and blue states, or people getting worked up over "Merry Christmas". The fact is, not even Norway is the same now as when I moved back here in 1981. There is a lot that is better, but some things are worse. We're all guilty of acting more selfishly, with a greater sense of entitlement, with a shrug of the shoulders if we mess up because it's just other people, you know, not the end of the world. What. Ever.

Well, individuals still have a lot of choice, both in their own behavior and in what they choose to focus on. Here's my focus:

Norway is a better nation now than 30 years ago, even if some things still need improving. And I still have faith that the real Americans are still there, still willing to accept differences and help each other and work their way out of current problems and on to a better future than ever.

Because that's how it always has been.