By Jeremy Paxman
No longer goodbye in the past, everyone knew who the English have been. They have been well mannered, unexcitable, reserved, and had hot-water bottles rather than a intercourse existence. because the dominant tradition in a rustic that ruled an empire that ruled the area, that they had no use to check themselves and ask who they have been. yet anything has occurred.
A new self-confidence turns out to have taken carry in Wales and Scotland, whereas others attempt to forge a brand new courting with Europe. The English are being compelled to invite what it's that makes them who they're. Is there one of these factor as an English race? Witty, dazzling, affectionate, and incisive, Jeremy Paxman lines the discovery of Englishness to its present situation and concludes that, for all their attribute gloom approximately themselves, the English can have constructed a sort of nationalism for the twenty-first century.
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Extra resources for The English: A Portrait of a People
The English don't show pride within the achievements in their governments: they be aware of they consist at better of ‘characters’ and at worst of charlatans. If a British top Minister seemed on tv and commenced addressing them as American Presidents tackle their humans (‘Mah feller Mericans’ as Richard Nixon used to claim) their viewers may fall approximately guffawing. trip to England by means of the cross-channel teach from Paris to London and you'll see the English indifference to the state country right now. it's a trip from a urban that, with its grand boulevards and avenues, declares a trust in crucial making plans, to 1 that has simply grown like Topsy. Paris is still a urban the place the govt can nonetheless plough forward with grands projets like l. a. Défense or the Bastille Opera, while London can scarcely agree on a brand new statue. Even the railway itself testifies to the variation. by means of December 1994, trains have been working without delay from Paris to London. Having made up our minds to embark on their grand projet, the French govt easily willed it to occur. A high-speed railway line used to be outfitted from Paris to the coast, on which, from the instant the tunnel opened, trains hurtled at as much as 186 miles in keeping with hour. On rising into the Kent geographical region, the trains lower their pace via approximately part. The English had no longer obtained round to development their high-speed rail line. Excuses got by means of the specialists concerning the better density of inhabitants in Kent, the truth that it used to be within the so much filthy rich nook of britain, rather than the quite disadvantaged north of France. however the actual cause was once different dating among the person and the country. The French executive is just readier to impose its will: if it desires to construct a railway line or nuclear strength station, it wills the ability, irrespective of whose again backyard it occurs to be in. The English not just won’t bring up the taxes to make it ensue, yet carry making plans inquiries at which each objection from Dunroamin may be weighed. the various priorities – the centrally decreed wishes of the nation and the person concerns of the citizen – communicate volumes. The English count on their high-speed rail line from the tunnel to be entire via 2007. probably it is going to be. Belonging to a clearly melancholic humans, many of the English came across the nation of the cross-channel rail hyperlink embarrassing. How used to be it that even anything so simple as a collaborative railway line may prove giving the French a chance to crow concerning the superiority in their engineering? A extra optimistic manner of it'll were for them to have fun the truth that they lived in a rustic the place the nation can't do because it pleases and stroll everywhere in the citizen. it really is tempting to finish that the French think the kingdom is the folks, whereas in England, the country is whatever else – ‘them’. If I needed to record these characteristics of the English which so much galvanize me – a quizzical detachment, tolerance, good judgment, bloody-mindedness, willingness to compromise, their deeply political feel of themselves – i believe I may still compliment such a lot this feeling of ‘I be aware of my rights’.