Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Longest Weekend

Dear Mr Cameron,

I trust that this letter finds you and Mr Clegg in good health.

Mr Brown, your predecessor and a fellow Scotchman, albeit of the more common truculent variety, used to collect suggestions for national celebrations on the Downing St website.

We now appreciate that he ought to have been scolding bankers and pretending to admire Mr Obama instead of reading block-capital demands that he should resign in favour of various motoring correspondents.

Especially as his staff of grammar-school bullies rejected one of the few ideas that might have given the public a hearty dose of British spunk and rebuffed the Muslim Menace, namely my proposal for Fenella Fielding Day.

This Great Coalition of Yours has so far chosen to disregard our various Cymru Rouge offers of political footsie, and has not even had the nous to steal our cruel but fair policies. So perhaps the time has come to appeal to your unthinking conservatism.

Evelyn Waugh, the off-the-peg Papist with bespoke reactionary views, lamented that Tory governments never turn the clock back. Your readiness to anger your own Highland clansmen by literally turning the winter clock back encourages me to think that you might accept my proposal to drag Britain, pimp-rolling and glottalising, into the 1940s.

"Why the 1940s?" you drawl. I have carried out audience research among the usurers, recovering lepers and mad-haired women who constitute my Facebook followers, and they all agree that the 1940s made the best war films.

You and I know that the 1940s made the best war, while the films belong to later decades. But my Morlocks have a point. Britain's current economic, social and political conditions are moving steadily towards the 1937 indicators, and your Coalition echoes the lion-eats-lamb Biblical balance of Mr Baldwin's National Government. So the 1940s are indeed something to aspire to.

These Liberal Democrat cabinet ministers are a shower, although that's an improvement on their voters - who simply need a shower. You laugh. See? That's traditional 1940s humour, usually delivered before some Limehouse stage props by a man in a five-piece suit to an audience of pickpockets and costermongers. I think the Nation is ready.

I propose that the government reorganise public life along the lines of our best war films. I don't mean pacifist nonsense like either Paths or Tunes of Glory, but rather those evergreen paeans to Britons' licking Hitler and other undesirables through impromptu ingenuity, feudal fealty, speaking very fast and putting the Poles to good use.

I have in mind "Sink the Bismarck!", "Went the Day Well", "Mrs Miniver", "Ill Met By Moonlight", "Brief Encounter", "The Goose Steps Out", "In Which We Serve" and all those Sherlock Holmes films with Basil Rathbone.

British life will be based on the Kitchener morality, breakneck diction, blithe prejudices, smoking endurance records, eerie cuisine and occasional personal hygiene of these films.

The most important lesson, as ever, concerns class. Britain is a scarecrow sown from many cloths - the Harris tweed of Scotland, Irish lace, English houndstooth and Welsh stonewashed denim - and its seams can only run true if everyone knows which side to dress to.

War films reinforce the wholesome order reflected in your own Government, Mr Cameron, with their officer corps of effete English aristos, dour but dependable Scotch NCOs, brave, bantering cockney corporals, incoherent, expendable Welsh sappers, Irish fifth-columnists and fesity terriers with vaguely racialist names.

"But how will our more recent Muslim, Hindu, Afro-Caribbean, Roma and Geordie citizens fit in this cosy communal hierarchy?" you may ask, glancing nervously over your shoulder.

The question is appropriate. In the 1940s Britain hosted only two significant immigrant communities - the anti-fascist Italian miners of Wales and Scotland, and the German Jewish refugees of most public libraries in North London.

It was in some ways unfortunate that our chief antagonists in the 1939-1945 War were precisely Italy and Germany, as this meant that these noble, sad-eyed people with their waistcoats and drooping moustaches spent the war locked up on the Isle of Man with dozens of Mosleyite pederasts and, for all I know, Rudolf Hess.

As such they feature little in our war film catalogue, and provide far from reassuring role models for our bearded, multi-armed and roofless minorities.

The answer is thick-ankled Thatcherite laisser choisir, which lets our newer compatriots decide for themselves which silver-screen nationality to emulate.

Your Liberal Democrat colleagues' historic pandering to communal interests in local government will ensure that this process is not carried out in a messy personal manner, but rather through the agency of religious and gang leaders, whose ethnic and faith groups will convert en masse to Celtdom, Cocknicity or what have you.

The social workers and librarians who once voted Liberal Democrat find themselves politically and soon literally homeless. They will be given a stake in the Big Society by retraining our minorities in their ethnos of choice.

For example, if Sikhs decide to become Scotchmen they will need to acquire the keys to the Treasury and a mystifying sense of grievance. The newly-English Hindus will have to channel their energy into random football commentary and freestyle drinking, while the Welsh Gypsies will need watching very, very carefully.

Anyone wanting to be German will be taken aside for a quiet word, and the whole world eagerly awaits the advent of the Muslim Ulstermen.

Other aspects of our war-film culture will help to make Britain a breezier place:

  • Speaking very fast without opening your mouth much will confound the lip-readers of foreign intelligence services and reduce the amount of time needed for TV and radio broadcasts.

  • Double-fisted smoking and abstinence from central heating will save on NHS bills, while most medical treatments will be replaced by alcoholic GPs' bellowing "stuff and nonsense!", cross-country running for the highly-strung, and the application of wire wool and Dettol to persistent wounds.

  • Foreign policy will change little, amounting as it already does to sponging off the Americans, eyeing "Ivan" warily, alternately ignoring and shooting at Continentals, and pointless badgering about in the Near East.

There are many other benefits to the 1940s, such as a deluded optimism on the Left about their ability to make the world, and indeed Britain itself, a better place.

You, Mr Cameron, will be able to exploit this by welcoming the bluff fellows of the Labour Party into government as less annoying coalition partners, just like Mr Churchill did.

Labour will be buoyed by the belief that an electoral landslide is just around the corner. And the whole nation will enjoy watching the Liberals retreat to the Marches and Rievers where they belong, there to judge sheepdog trials and give Celtic drunks a party to play with.

Here's how!

Yours etc,

Huw Samphan, chief adjudicator (external affairs and fighting)
The Cymru Rouge


Anonymous said...

Imagined communities (Anderson) One cannot possibly know all English/Welsh/Scots and therefore the nation only notionally exists. Invented tradition (Hobsbawm) the nation tied together by certain common values/beliefs/mythical tales of origin.

No Good Boyo said...

I'm an Anderson fan too, Ciaran, and posted earlier on the invention of the Welsh:

"While some celebrate invasions, conversions, displacements and defenestrations, we have an annual toga party and give one another big wooden chairs for the best poem."


As national traditions are all invented, it stands to reason that anyone ought to be welcomed in if they accept the shared myths - just like religions, but with poets and artillery.

Ian Plenderleith said...

Lincolnshire (and many other parts of Britain, I suspect) is still stuck in the 1940s, so it'll be no problem for us.

Anonymous said...

We could go into a longeur about the invention of Welsh nationalism in Victorian Britain but won't!

Gadjo Dilo said...

Ah, the 1940s, when the street urchins spoke RADA English and one could smoke 80 Craven 'A' a day and experience no ill effects whatsoever.

Inded, I remind myself of the large and vocal Let's Promote Our Motoring Correspondents to the Highest Jobs in the Land movement whenever I think it might be a good idea to return to a sensible country like Britain. Works every time.

Sauti Ndogo said...

Wait no longer for the Muslim Ulsterman. Just say hello to a Somali.

I've never met a Somali I didn't like. Have you ever met an Irishman you didn't like?

Fesity terriers?

No Good Boyo said...

Sorry, old man, should be "Feisty".

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