Thursday, 10 September 2009
The English According to Jeremy Paxman
"Once upon a time the English knew who they were. There was such a ready list of adjectives to hand. They were polite, unexcitable, reserved and had hot-water bottles instead of a sex life: how they reproduced was one of the mysteries of the western world. They were doers rather than thinkers, writers rather than painters, gardeners rather than cooks. They were class-bound, hidebound and incapable of expressing their emotions. They did their duty. Fortitude bordering on the incomprehensible was a byword: "I have lost my leg, by God!", exclaimed Lord Uxbridge, as shells exploded all over the battlefield. "By God, you have!" replied the Duke of Wellington. A soldier lying mortally wounded in a flooded trench on the Somme was, so the myth went, likely to say only that he "mustn't grumble". Their most prized possession was a sense of honour*. They were steadfast and trustworthy. The word of an English gentleman was as good as a bond sealed in blood." From The English by Jeremy Paxman * To this I would add "a sense of humour".