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Brit-Myth: Who Do the British Think They Are? by Chris Rojek
Bob Geldof, British Empire, business climate, colonial rule, deindustrialization, demand response, full employment, Gordon Gekko, Isaac Newton, Khartoum Gordon, Live Aid, Mahatma Gandhi, mass immigration, means of production, post-industrial society, Red Clydeside, sceptred isle, Stephen Hawking, the market place, urban planning, Winter of Discontent
Nationalism-Strong/Nationalism-Lite Traditionally, real, enduring identification with the nation involves a romantic attachment to blood and soil. It is a matter of regarding your life as one episode in the national story. The nation’s ‘skin’ is your skin, the nation’s interests are your interests, and an insult to the nation is a personal insult. As John of Gaunt said of England, in William Shakespeare’s Richard ii (Act 2, Scene 1): This royal throne of kings, this sceptred isle, This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars, This other Eden, demi-Paradise; 204 BRIT-MYTH This fortress built by Nature for herself Against infection and the hand of war; This happy breed of men, this little world; This precious stone set in the silver sea, Which serves it in the office of a wall, Or as moat defensive to a house, Against the envy of less happier lands; This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England . . .
Bakken shale, Climategate, Climatic Research Unit, deindustrialization, energy security, failed state, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, income per capita, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), means of production, mutually assured destruction, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, out of africa, peak oil, price discovery process, rising living standards, sceptred isle, South China Sea, University of East Anglia, uranium enrichment, Yom Kippur War
The longest growing season in the past 241 years (which is as far back as we can calculate) was 300 days, in 2000. The average growing season in the mid-nineteenth century was 240 days, with the shortest, in 1859, being just 181 days. In the best-case scenario, the world and the UK are returning to the climate of the mid-nineteenth century. So how much less food will the UK be able to grow when the length of the growing season is reduced by 45 percent? That is something for the sceptred isle to ponder. The year 1859 is also significant in that it is the year when glaciers started retreating worldwide in response to a Sun that was becoming more active. The aa index, a measure of the Sun’s geomagnetic activity, increased from a low of 5 in the mid-nineteenth century to a peak of 37 in 2003. It has now fallen back to a level of 5, even though we are near the peak of Solar Cycle 24.
This Sceptred Isle by Christopher Lee
agricultural Revolution, Berlin Wall, British Empire, colonial rule, Corn Laws, cuban missile crisis, Edward Lloyd's coffeehouse, failed state, financial independence, glass ceiling, half of the world's population has never made a phone call, James Hargreaves, James Watt: steam engine, Khartoum Gordon, Khyber Pass, mass immigration, Mikhail Gorbachev, Monroe Doctrine, new economy, Northern Rock, Ronald Reagan, sceptred isle, spice trade, spinning jenny, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trade route, urban decay
Christopher Lee is a writer, historian and broadcaster, best-known for writing the radio history series This Sceptred Isle for the BBC. Lee was the first Quatercentenary Fellow in Contemporary History and Gomes Lecturer at Emmanuel College, Cambridge. He researched The History of Ideas at Birkbeck, University of London. He has written nearly thirty books and more than one hundred radio plays. Constable & Robinson Ltd 55-56 Russell Square London WC1B 4HP www.constablerobinson.com First published in the UK by BBC Books, 1997 This updated edition published by Constable, an imprint of Constable & Robinson Ltd., 2012 Copyright © Christopher Lee 1997, 2012 The right of Christopher Lee to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 Extracts from A History of the English-speaking Peoples by Sir Winston S.
We both tacitly understood that I would be watched over by Howard Watson – an exceptional copy editor with the confidence an author too often needs (well at least this one does). My biggest Thank You letter is to my sometime publisher, now my agent and always my friend, Christopher Sinclair-Stevenson who has never sent nor received an email or made a mobile telephone call, and does not care that Google is a verb. Introduction The original edition of This Sceptred Isle was generously received at seemingly every level. It set out to explain the story of these, the British islands. Later volumes covered the twentieth century and, most importantly, the origins, growth and end of British colonial and imperial history. Put together, the three books suggested the character of the people who became the modern-day British and to some extent the making of Britishness.
Globish: How the English Language Became the World's Language by Robert McCrum
Alistair Cooke, anti-communist, Berlin Wall, British Empire, call centre, colonial rule, credit crunch, cuban missile crisis, Deng Xiaoping, Etonian, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, invention of movable type, invention of writing, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, jimmy wales, knowledge economy, Livingstone, I presume, Martin Wolf, Naomi Klein, Norman Mailer, Parag Khanna, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Republic of Letters, Ronald Reagan, sceptred isle, Scramble for Africa, Silicon Valley, Steven Pinker, the new new thing, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, trade route, transatlantic slave trade, transcontinental railway, upwardly mobile
‘At some moment in the late 1580s,’ Greenblatt writes in his biography, Will in the World, ‘Shakespeare walked into a room – most likely in an inn in Shoreditch, Southwark, or the Bankside – and quite possibly found many of the leading writers drinking and eating together: Christopher Marlowe, Thomas Watson, Thomas Lodge, George Peele, Thomas Nashe, and Robert Greene.’ This extraordinarily gifted group, writes Greenblatt, ‘shared a combination of extreme marginality and arrogant snobbishness’. At that moment, much the same could have been said of England and its language. Shakespeare’s ‘sceptred isle’ was still a small nation, but one just beginning to find its international voice. Sir Philip Sidney, a true Elizabethan, at once a poet, courtier and soldier, observed: ‘But for the uttering sweetly and properly the conceite of the minde … which is the ende of thought … English hath it equally with any other tongue in the world.’ This was by no means a universal opinion. Francis Bacon, like many of his educated contemporaries, preferred to express his finest thoughts in Latin, and considered that English would ‘play the bankrupts with the books’.
A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived by Adam Rutherford
23andMe, agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, bioinformatics, British Empire, colonial rule, dark matter, delayed gratification, demographic transition, double helix, Drosophila, epigenetics, Google Earth, Isaac Newton, meta analysis, meta-analysis, out of africa, phenotype, sceptred isle, theory of mind, Thomas Malthus
Even when we know the genome intimately, and the patterns of inheritance, and the history of the DNA, and the migration patterns of the people who carried it, and evolutionary pressures that led to the perpetuation of the genes and the phenotype – even when we know all that, how it manifests can still be mysterious and surprising. Anyone who says differently is selling something. The British are coming While we’re in the north-east of Europe, let me indulge in some national pride to scrutinize this sceptred isle, and the finest genetic analyses of a people yet undertaken: just who are the British? Archaeologists sometimes use technological cultures as being definitional of people or eras. These are often broad and scattered characteristics incorporating a multitude of skills. The Beaker people, for example, made distinctive drinking cups and vessels over a couple of millennia beginning almost 5,000 years ago, and also had bronze and other metalworking skills, shot arrows, and were spread all over Europe, with many subdivisions across the land.
Bourgeois Dignity: Why Economics Can't Explain the Modern World by Deirdre N. McCloskey
Admiral Zheng, agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, BRICs, British Empire, butterfly effect, Carmen Reinhart, clockwork universe, computer age, Corn Laws, creative destruction, dark matter, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, Donald Trump, Edward Lorenz: Chaos theory, endogenous growth, European colonialism, experimental economics, financial innovation, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, George Akerlof, germ theory of disease, Gini coefficient, greed is good, Howard Zinn, income per capita, interchangeable parts, invention of agriculture, invention of air conditioning, invention of writing, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John Snow's cholera map, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, Kenneth Rogoff, knowledge economy, long peace, means of production, Naomi Klein, New Economic Geography, New Urbanism, Paul Samuelson, purchasing power parity, rent-seeking, road to serfdom, Robert Gordon, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, sceptred isle, Scientific racism, Scramble for Africa, Shenzhen was a fishing village, Simon Kuznets, Slavoj Žižek, spinning jenny, Steven Pinker, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, total factor productivity, transaction costs, tulip mania, union organizing, Upton Sinclair, urban renewal, V2 rocket, very high income, working poor, World Values Survey, Yogi Berra
Findlay and O’Rourke want to make a nationalist, militaristic, imperialist argument that British prosperity depended on British guns aimed abroad. It is an argument that David Landes has frequently made. The historian Paul Kennedy stated flatly in 1976 that “Britain’s wealth would obviously have been lost had she herself surrendered command of the sea.”56 The assertion, though conventional in British strategic thinking for 202 centuries, runs against the logic of “this sceptred isle. . . this fortress. . . set in the silver sea/ Which serves it in the office . . . of a moat defensive to a house/ Against the envy of less happier lands.” A Britain with a little Tudor-style navy devoted to coastal defense would have remained independent. Wooden walls mattered up to the middle of the nineteenth century. Later it was British ingenuity in breaking the German naval code and inventing radar, not the Fleet sitting in miserable inaction at Scapa Flow, that chiefly prevented invasion.
Ghosts of Empire: Britain's Legacies in the Modern World by Kwasi Kwarteng
Ayatollah Khomeini, banking crisis, British Empire, colonial rule, Corn Laws, corporate governance, Deng Xiaoping, discovery of penicillin, Etonian, illegal immigration, imperial preference, invisible hand, Khartoum Gordon, land reform, sceptred isle, Scientific racism, Scramble for Africa, trade route, urban planning, Yom Kippur War
Lastly, Hong Kong showed, in many ways, how changes in Britain were not reflected by changes in the wider empire. Patten was a child of the liberal 1960s and blindly believed a version of his country’s history that presented the British Empire as an enlightened liberal force, spreading democracy and freedom to the furthest shores of the earth. Margaret Thatcher had grown up through the Second World War, listening to, and believing, Churchill’s late Victorian rhetoric that invoked Shakespeare’s ‘sceptred isle’ imagery; she genuinely shared the Whiggish notion that British history, with its Magna Carta and Glorious Revolution, was the story of the development of ‘freedom’ and liberal democratic ideas of government. So far as this idea was true for Britain, it did not apply to any real extent to the administration of the British Empire, which was always a wholly different political organization from Britain itself.
Heaven's Command (Pax Britannica) by Jan Morris
British Empire, Cape to Cairo, centralized clearinghouse, Corn Laws, European colonialism, Fellow of the Royal Society, Khartoum Gordon, Khyber Pass, land reform, land tenure, Livingstone, I presume, Magellanic Cloud, mass immigration, means of production, Monroe Doctrine, Plutocrats, plutocrats, profit motive, Ralph Waldo Emerson, sceptred isle, Scramble for Africa, trade route
Even there they overflowed the seats, sitting on the floor and hanging about the doors: and from the high dais of Wren’s little masterpiece, beneath the painted putti on the ceiling, rolling back their painted tentage to reveal the pale blue sky behind, Ruskin delivered his call for the ideology of Empire: There is a destiny now possible to us, the highest ever set before a nation to be accepted or refused … Will you youths of England make your country again a royal throne of kings, a sceptred isle, for all the world a source of light, a centre of peace; mistress of learning and of the Arts, faithful guardian of time-honoured principles? This is what England must either do or perish; she must found colonies as fast and as far as she is able, formed of her most energetic and worthiest men; seizing every piece of fruitful waste ground she can set her foot on, and there teaching these her colonists that their chief virtue is to be fidelity to their country, and their first aim is to be to advance the power of England by land and sea … If we can get men, for little pay, to cast themselves against cannon-mouths for love of England, we may find men also who will plough and sow for her, who will behave kindly and righteously for her, and who will bring up their children to love her … You think that an impossible ideal.
The other publication, an inaugural lecture by John Ruskin as Slade Professor at Oxford, delivered in 1870, was brimful of imperial fervour: There is a destiny now possible to us, the highest ever set before a nation to be accepted or refused. We are still undegenerate in race; a race mingled with the best northern blood. We are not yet dissolute in temper, but still have the firmness to govern and the grace to obey . . . Will you youths of England make your country again a royal throne of kings, a sceptred isle, for all the world a source of light, a centre of peace; mistress of learning and of the Arts, faithful guardian of time-tried principles . . .? This is what England must either do or perish: she must found colonies as fast and as far as she is able, formed of her most energetic and worthiest men; seizing every piece of fruitful waste grounds she can set her foot on, and there teaching these her colonists that their chief virtue is to be fidelity to their country, and their first aim is to be to advance the power of England by land and sea . . .
England by David Else
active transport: walking or cycling, Albert Einstein, back-to-the-land, Berlin Wall, British Empire, call centre, car-free, carbon footprint, colonial rule, Columbine, congestion charging, David Attenborough, David Brooks, Etonian, food miles, glass ceiling, haute cuisine, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Mahatma Gandhi, mass immigration, new economy, New Urbanism, out of africa, period drama, place-making, sceptred isle, Skype, Sloane Ranger, South of Market, San Francisco, Stephen Hawking, the market place, trade route, transatlantic slave trade, transatlantic slave trade, unbiased observer, upwardly mobile, urban planning, urban renewal, urban sprawl, Winter of Discontent
Contents Destination England Getting Started Events Calendar Itineraries History The Culture Food & Drink Environment London The Southeast Oxford, the Cotswolds & Around Wessex Devon & Cornwall East Anglia The East Midlands The West Midlands & the Marches Yorkshire The Northwest Cumbria & the Lake District The Northeast Directory Transport Health Glossary The Authors Behind the Scenes Map Legend * * * Destination England Throughout its long history, it’s been a green and pleasant land, a sceptred isle and a nation of shopkeepers. It’s stood as a beacon of democracy and a bastion of ideological freedom, as well as a crucible of empire and a cradle of class oppression. The Magna Carta, the King James Bible and the welfare state were all dreamt up here, but then again so were beer bellies, Bovril and Mr Bean. It’s a nation of tea-tippling eccentrics and train spotters, of dog lovers and footy fanatics, of punk rockers, gardeners, gnome collectors, celebrity wannabees, superstar chefs, free-wheeling city traders, pigeon fanciers, cricket bores and part-time Morris Dancers.
Green Tourism Business Scheme (www.green-business.co.uk) Accreditation for green businesses, with searchable listings for accommodation and attractions. One Planet Future (www.wwf.org.uk/oneplanet/) WWF campaign for making Britain greener, with practical tips on ecotravel. Return to beginning of chapter READING UP What better way to get acquainted with England than by reading someone else’s adventures? Here are some of our favourite books about English travel, along with a few tomes exploring the quirkier side of this sceptred isle. Notes from a Small Island is a bestselling memoir by the American-born author Bill Bryson, based on trips around Britain in the 1970s and ’80s. Employing Bryson’s trademark fussy style and self-deprecating wit, it’s incisive, observant and very funny. In Search of England by HV Morton is one of the classic prewar English travelogues, written by a veteran Daily Express columnist in the 1920s.