Monday, June 14, 2010

Ah Come On – it’s only banter between friends!

What a lot of hot air is being blown around about the ‘ABE – Anyone but England’ T-shirts; the refusal of many Scots and Welsh to support the only British team in the World Cup and the overwhelming excuse that it is all ‘ a bit of fun – really.

Where’s your sense of humour for heaven’s sake – ABE T-Shirts? well they’re a bit of a laugh really; and anyway it’s all in fun where did you English put your sense of humour?

Now I have just read one of the funniest articles concerning debt reduction by Jeremy Clarkson

With his tongue firmly planted in his cheek, Jeremy suggests that the UK should cut off one of its limbs (Scotland) to save the body. To be fair to him, Jeremy does point out that the advantages to Scotland itself would be many, but the tone of the article is (to this cynic) amusingly mocking and decidedly humorous; and surely not be taken seriously – and after all it’s only a bit of fun – really!

Alas, it seems our cousins north of the border are sadly lacking in a sense of humour when it comes to taking the Michael out of those worthies – the comments themselves indicate that some things just aint funny!

Indeed a Mr Bob Seivwright even goes so far as to call our Jeremy a racist!

Sorry you would be surprised how much of the Scots don’t want to be detached, 20% of what figure you quoted. I am sure you are a little bit short of ideas to write about, so we will let your little bit of racism go for now.- Bob Seivwright June 13, 2010 5:59 AM BST”

Now Bob, let me get this right, you think that Jeremy is racist for suggesting that Scotland is actively pursuing independence – so why do you want to remain in a union with us? Surely the most racist of all people must be Alex Salmond then!

And you just might be interested in the work of Dr David Goldstein of University College London who proved that there is very little genetic difference between the people of the British Isles :

"One tends to think of England as Anglo-Saxon," Dr. Goldstein said. "But we show quite clearly there was not complete replacement of existing populations by either Anglo-Saxons or Danes. It looks like the Celts did hold out."

(Taken from the New York Times article of May 27th 2003 entitled “ Y Chromosomes Sketch New Outline of British History” By Nicholas Wade and reproduced here  - itself an irony)

The only true differences between the English and their so called Celtic cousins are cultural ones, not racial. So if neither the Scots nor the English are genetically racially different we cannot be accused of being racist towards each other.

So while you may berate Jeremy for his lack of talent or his xenophobia, you may not call him a racist – for you are not of another race my friend, merely a different culture – and after 300 years of political and geographical union even that is not so different.

Scots drink whisky and wear kilts when dancing the fling (and I won’t go into the differences between the original plaid and the present day kilt which was the brain child of an engl .... oh well, we won’t go there!)

The English drink cider and wear straw hats with ribbons when dancing the Flamborough Sword Dance. – This of course is merely generalisation for example and I well aware of the unique clog dances of the northern English counties and the differences between the ‘uniform’ of Morris dancing!

If we concentrate of what differentiates us from others we create an artificial division between us usually done with a sense of self righteousness that ‘we are not as others are’. Which is foolish beyond measure because basically we are all exactly as others are.

This seems to have escaped those that took poor Jeremy seriously (really you lot where IS your sense of humour –it’s all in fun – really!)

For instance poor Norman MacDonald is positively frothing at the mouth -

“.....the English have always been so superior in everything they do, why not be totally honest and admit to looking down your noses at anyone from outside a certain geographical region ... this small(South Western) corner has treated themselves AS England and the rest of the country, as well as the Scots and Irish, as second-class (or worse) citizens.

Guess what...we don't care.

By simply not being English we all feel better off. At least we feel an identity. The rest of the world doesn't really hate you (except the French) despite us all having a great laugh at trying to guess how much further up your own arses your collective national psyche can disappear...”

And then, perhaps feeling that he may have been a trifle strident about the 50 million or so who inhabit the larger bit of this island (after all he is inclusive and except no–one) he shrugs it off with

Only joking really.....I quite like the English.....Good luck with the World Cup (40 years of dreaming) and pounding the might of Bangladesh at rounders."Norman MacDonald : June 13, 2010 12:16 PM BST

Ah – now I get it; Mr MacDonald is seriously displeased with Mr Clarkson’s intemperate remarks about cutting Scotland free and finds it unamusing. Unlike his more moderate take on the situation which is – after all – only in fun! Got It – I think.

A Mr Marcus Fila – an English man – responding in kind to Jeremy’s witticism suggested that we instigate a very tight immigration system for those wishing to travel south of the border.

This did not please James Williamson – in fact he got a little huffy!

Also, what about all the Scots and Scottish descendants who are running every aspect of your country because you do not have enough natural talent to do so yourself. England would fade into oblivion without themJames Williamson: June 13, 2010 10:57 AM BST

Mr Williamson – for heaven’s sake, why get so personal over a little bit of fun and banter between friends! Mind you if that’s what you think about your friends I’d hate to get on the wrong side of you.

Some people north of the existing border obviously missed the obvious - James, my dear  (this is another James) – Jeremy was suggesting that England saves itself some money by setting Scotland free! Saving the body by cutting off a limb, so to speak;

James however seems to have missed that point -

“Mr Clarkson, I have always though that your mouth was as big as you are, I am now happy to have been proved right. You ask your egotistical self, why if we in Scotland are such a burden, why don’t you let us go.? Why the need to hold onto us?. With your ego a sencible [sic] reply is not expected.” James Lambie June 13, 2010 2:14 AM BST

Dearie me James; now that is not nice. Jeremy indeed wanted to let you go, he was very adamant about that fact; but well let’s not allow facts to get in the way of a good ol’ personal attack – all in fun you understand!!

You know, the real amusing part of the story is that Jeremy actually suggests the border be placed north of York – of course if you didn’t know that he is actually a Yorkshire man himself – you might miss that bit of whimsy!

Now there was one or two who actually used wit to attack the author – indeed, look you, a Mr Evan Jenkins wrote:

“Jeremy is a serious commentator with an [sic] firm grip on politics and everything else. He is terribly funny because he often says what English men secretly believe deep down in their wee hearts- before they moved out of home anyway- and everyone not in a bankrupt, decayed, damp and small island laughs doubly that the English still feel they're special somehow.

Jeremy is why England is now so... tiresomely mediocre. The world would pity but somehow no-one cares much. Still: 2 World Wars and 1 World cup, what?” - June 13, 2010 1:52 AM BST

... however, I suspect Mr Jenkins is a Welshman – so it doesn’t count.

And finally Mark O’Hara goes to the heart of the problem

“Does anyone in England actually think that remarks like "funny skirts and ginger hair" are witty? Does anyone anywhere think Adrian Clarkson is funny?” Mark OHare

Well Michaela - (if Jeremy has now morphed into an ‘Adrian’ I can get into the act too) - that is indeed the question.

I could ask if anyone in Scotland actually thinks that an ‘Anyone But England’ T-Shirt is witty? Apparently many do.

I could indeed ask the people of England if they considered these small selection of witticisms emanating from Scotland in response to a not-to-be-taken-seriously article are funny, humorous or whatever?

Some might call them humorous; but some may equally claim they indicate nothing less than cultural superiority bordering on hatred – what you choose to believe of course depends on your preferred point of view. And in the comments there are indeed some very unedifying remarks by English people too.

And that of course is the anatomy of Division exemplified in Norman’s rant ‘By simply not being English we all feel better off ‘– instead of similarities we will dwell on what separates us – and in doing so we create a division between two parts of the same people.

Such divisions feed the hatred of those who glory in divisiveness rather than similarity. In focusing on division we create a culture where those we are different from are believed to be inferior to ourselves.

And that, my friends, is NOT funny.


  1. I'm sorry but although I appreciate where you are coming from you cannot really use Goldstein's work to 'prove' anything. These DNA studies are supremely flawed in their assumptions and assigning of statistical parameters. Goldstein may assert that he has proved something but then academics usually do. The problem with England as a study field is that it is just too mixed. It is quite an assumption for instance to suggest that just because a subject's greatgrandparents all came from the same village in Cambridgeshire that it represents a 'true' Anglo-Danish line. Other DNA markers, Celtic ones perhaps might have been introduced at any time in the previous thousand years. It gives no true picture of what was happening on the ground in 495AD. All it can say is there are some DNA markers found in Cambridgeshire that are also found in Wales! The rest is speculation. It is quite an assumption to suggest that the people now living in Southern Jutland are the same people genetically who were living there in 300AD. We might 'assume' that they are but quite conceivably they may not be.

    Goldstein may be right, although if he is, then the English language is pretty difficult to explain and you will see that rarely do geneticists attempt to explain it.

    If you want to believe Goldstein then fair enough but please do not cite is a 'proof' simply because it was a scientific study.

  2. Gee you sound like my old uni tutor!! I stand corrected on the word 'proved'

    But if such a bastion of impartiality and scientific orthodoxy as the BBC not only commissioned the study but also used it in their 'Viking'series I could be in good company ... oh! wait a minute .... the BBC??? No, I just stand corrected :)

  3. Well, personally I quite liked your article. You might be interested in two posts I wrote on the subject several years ago:

  4. @Ginro - thanks for the links, very informative indeed.