Thursday, 27 May 2010
So, we are returning to a country with one or two issues to sort out. I guess the PM will be too busy to do his own unpacking. He’s got his work cut out for him, after all. I’m going home to a country where:
1. Drunkenness appears to be out of control, but reluctance to put the price of booze up is not solving the problem. Is it just me, or is that what is currently known as a 'no brainer'? The last five years have seen an increase of 33% in alcohol-related injuries arriving at A&E, while in Scotland, Buckfast, the favourite cheap tipple of many a hardened drinker is thought to contain alarmingly high levels of caffeine, thus making consumers energetic as well as drunk, and so more likely to cause trouble.
2. A series of utterly barbaric and horrifying murders are currently appalling the nation.
3.. Scotland’s population is hooked on a ‘fly-on-the-wall’ documentary named ‘The Scheme’ which is shining a light on the lowest of the low... awash with drink, drugs, violence and a scary-looking dog, it’s been dubbed ‘poverty-porn’ . The trouble is, it’s real.
4. A series of Government cuts seem more than likely. Hold onto your hats.
5. Discipline in schools is apparently becoming worse, while levels of literacy and numeracy continue to decrease.
6.. We will work far longer hours than we do here in Norway, although not the longest in Europe, as is commonly thought
7. The population spends an average of 4 hours and 18 minutes per day watching TV, a far higher number of hours than other European nations. Presumably they are all too exhausted from their long working hours to get up off the sofa of an evening.
8. The average Brit spends 49 hours a year discussing the weather. Well it is endlessly changeable, and therefore fascinating.
9. ....oh yes, that Big Fat Deficit.
Hmm. Let me think. What is going to tempt me home and away from Norway? If I were to plan my life according to some of the stuff portrayed in the media, I would have to be nuts to even think about going home to Scotland. Luckily, the media is also covering another story today, one which is a reassuring relief to the heart and which restores one’s faith in humanity.
Today a fleet of small boats has been heading across to France from the South Coast of England to mark an important moment in history. Many of these vessels took part in the events of 70 years ago when exhausted Allied troops were stranded on the beaches at Dunkirk as the German forces advanced towards them. Over a thousand naval and civilian craft made the journey. It takes about 8 hours to sail across the Channel, and that is without being under heavy fire. Many of these little boats made the crossing several times, and in the end over 300,000 men were saved. It was a vast effort by ordinary, untrained people who simply wanted to help, and it was a key turning point in WW11.
But it also marks something else which, when the crunch comes, it seems the Brits are still capable of summoning up in themselves....the Dunkirk spirit. We’re British, of course, so one never admits to being much good at anything...it’s a national trait. But as Scotland, and Britain as a whole, are facing difficult economic, social, international and environmental challenges, I am not overcome with gloom. When I think of that flotilla of boats heading across the Channel, it's impossible not to feel that Brits are still pretty resilient.
Meanwhile, Mr Cameron, despite moving house, managed to amuse the nation this morning. Asked to give the daily horse racing tips on the radio, he had one minute to make up his mind. He reckoned if you are ‘a fan of the coalition’ you should back ‘Daring Dream’, while if you were ‘slightly more sceptical’ you should choose ‘Midnight Fantasy’. Apparently, it is hoped he is a better politician than tipster.
I wonder if he’ll have time to dig his favourite jammies out of the packing boxes...he needs his sleep.
Posted by Returning Scot at 17:27