Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Culture, Korea, and HG Wells
With St.George's day upon us, and thoughts of our shared culture uppermost in our minds, it's important to reflect on what Britishness really is.
It isn't bowler hats, morris dancers and fried breakfasts. We aren't a backward-looking people. There's no time for nostalgia and hidebound monoculturalism when we're busy getting phalanxes of Polish builders to knock up more and more Starbucks outlets or learning Mandarin so we can sell Johnny Foreigner some more riot-suppression kit.
Paradoxically, the most 'English' places you can find are the Costa Del Sol (which has been transformed into a rather more arid Blackpool by waves of migrant cabbies) and, most surprisingly, a small corner of Korea.
The people who go to these places aren't tourists in the conventional sense. They're Time Travellers who fear the bright future where we all live in one enormous Tesco and, instead, seek a safe haven in the mid-Sixties.
The mid-Sixties are pretty hard to access with our current technology so instead they've built the lost Albion of their childhood dreams somewhere hot.
The thing is, these arch-conservatives can migrate away from our island home all they want but they'll never be satisfied. Once they get past the novelty of washing some oilier-than average fish & chips down with an overpriced bottle of San Miguel while they're reading a suspiciously thin copy of the Daily Express the crushing realisation that there's no weather and so they have nothing to talk about will destroy their souls more thoroughly than a thousand Asylum Seekers hostels would have done.
They might as well save themselves a few bob and just buy a boxed set of Heartbeat DVDs. Except they can't.