Category Archives: English character, the

The English were constipated: now they’re incontinent

Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 21.17.05Dalrymple explains that his account of Britain as a declining, broken society is

ironic in the sense that I don’t think there was a golden age in which society was whole.

But

we have to look at the problems we have. Every age looks at the problems it has, and what I’ve found in England is a refusal to face the problems: they’re just too uncomfortable.

Dalrymple says it is, to a degree, a

puzzle

as to why Britain has become more degraded than all other comparable countries. But he points to

a gestalt switch: what was regarded as good is regarded as bad, and vice-versa. Emotional constipation, once a characteristic of the British, has become emotional incontinence. People regard it as a good thing to express themselves, irrespective of whether they’ve anything to express.

For reasons of hormonal disaffection, young people are disposed to throw themselves into ideological causes. They are susceptible to ideological rot, as they are to criminality,

which is a young man’s game.

With regard to English anti-social life, Dalrymple says:

If you go to entertainment areas, there is always an element of threat in Britain.

He recounts an experience he had in Manchester, where he was staying at an hotel.

There was laughing and screaming outside at 1.30 in the morning. When I went out the next morning, I found that someone had been nearly murdered — he was in hospital, in a coma. You can’t tell the difference in England between people enjoying themselves and someone being murdered.

The English then and now

Screen Shot 2015-12-21 at 09.00.33Once, writes Dalrymple, the qualities of the English population included

  • cool and ironic detachment from its own experience, that permitted it to face adversity with great good humour and modesty rather than by resort to histrionics
  • a polite restraint that was a precondition of depth of character. This restraint seemed to me heroic in an undemonstrative way; it was also the guarantor of an implicit subtlety

Today the chief characteristics of the English, Dalrymple points out, are

  • militant vulgarity
  • lack of restraint
  • arrogant loudness
  • ferocious and determined drunkenness
  • antisocial egotism
  • aggression and quick resort to violence
  • grossness of appetites
  • prideful ugliness of appearance
  • lack of finesse in any department of human existence

Moral delicacy on Facebook

All we want is attention

All we want is attention

The internet and Facebook, Dalrymple notes,

are certainly bringing into prominence the intrinsic decency and sense of fair play of the English,

as well as their

refined use of language.

He cites the Facebook contributions that greeted the reduction of the sentence given to Lee Kilburn. Mr Kilburn, Dalrymple explains,

Screen Shot 2015-10-25 at 11.58.04is a 42-year-old man of previously good character who was driven to distraction by children who constantly knocked on his door and ran away. His wife had just been diagnosed with a brain tumour. Mr Kilburn chased one of the children who had knocked on his door, and there are two versions of what happened: he says he ran after her, grabbed her and she fell, he fell on top of her and she broke her nose on the ground; she says he punched her and broke his nose.

Mr Kilburn admitted that he had lost his temper and was in the wrong, but denied that he had intended to injure the girl. The judges agreed that there were mitigating circumstances, freed him from jail and suspended his sentence. One response on Facebook to the judicial decision read as follows:

Screen Shot 2015-10-25 at 11.59.15I’d go inside [i.e. be admitted to prison] just to wrap a quilt round his neck and stab the **** in his skull until his head is drained, no remorse, no mercy, dead! His cell would be covered in red.

Dalrymple comments:

Screen Shot 2015-10-25 at 12.00.42The moral delicacy of the man who wrote this is evident from his refusal to spell out the four-letter word he wanted to use to describe Mr Kilburn. The line has to be drawn somewhere.

He asks:

Did people have sentiments such as the above before Facebook enabled them to be expressed anonymously in public, or did the possibility of expressing them in public anonymously call them forth?

Screen Shot 2015-10-25 at 12.02.49

Rottrollen (detail), 1917. John Bauer. Pen and wash

 

Dirtiest people in Europe

Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 07.32.44Let the State clear up after me

Why, asks Dalrymple, are Britain’s councils and its highways agency

so negligent?

Local public administration

is incapable of organising street-cleaning properly, and does not see it as an important part of its duty. After all, it has chief executives to pay.

Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 08.06.36Why do the British

turn practically every road into a ribbon development of the rubbish dump of a Latin American town?

England’s streets are

by far the dirtiest in Western Europe. A Briton’s street is his dining room and litter bin.

Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 08.12.44The English seem to think that

what a beauty spot really needs is an empty, glaring-orange Lucozade bottle.

Circumambient slovenliness

The explanation lies, Dalrymple points out, in the deep selfishness of the British.

In order not to litter when it might be convenient to you to do so, you have to appreciate that you are not the only person in the world, that the world is not made just for your convenience.

If you look at the British,

you would think they were like shrews, that they have to eat twice their own body weight every few hours to survive. It is hardly surprising that people who exert no control over when and where they eat exert no control over where they leave the remains.

It is no coincidence that the British,

being the dirtiest people in Europe, are also the fattest.

 

The triumph of vulgarity in England

Screen Shot 2015-08-05 at 07.16.18It has been brought about, writes Dalrymple, by the likes of Max Clifford and Jimmy Savile,

with the complicity of a ruling class that has lost faith in itself.

Dalrymple mère on the English

Screen Shot 2013-04-21 at 16.25.27

Yeah, I’m British. Now fuck off!

When Dalrymple’s mother arrived in England as a refugee from Nazi Germany

she found the people admirable….[and the] culture…possessed of a deep and seductive, if subtle and by no means transparent or obvious, charm….[She was struck by] the orderliness and restraint of political life….[and the] gentleness of conduct in public….Behavior when ill or injured was stoic…

Two-thirds of a century later, she found the British people

rude, dishonest, and charmless….A transvaluation…seemed to have taken place….The human qualities that people valued and inculcated when she arrived had become mocked, despised, and repudiated….Extravagance of gesture, vehemence of expression, vainglorious boastfulness, self-exposure, absence of inhibition — the old modesty scorned.

(2008)