Friday, 8 February 2013

Tradition: to be cherished, for better or for worse

I’ve had reason to say before that England is a country that values its traditions.

That’s why, every time the old lady from Buckingham Palace gets her eco-friendly, horse-drawn conveyance out and travels down the Mall with all the smart fellows in red coats trotting around her, so many Brits – and not a few tourists – all turn out to wave and cheer and generally enjoy engaging in behaviour exactly as obsequious as people have been displaying for centuries. It makes us all feel good to know that if we’re still dominated by feelings of deferential self-abasement, well, so were our ancestors.

So it’s great to find evidence of the longevity of some of our traditions. For instance, I’ve also previously mentioned Nadine Dorries, Member of Parliament for Mid Bedfordshire who, despite being a Conservative, summed up the leadership of the Tory Party in terms that I couldn’t possibly hope to better.

Nadine Dorries: no flies on her when it comes to her party leaders

She described David Cameron, Prime Minister (pro tem, scheduled expulsion from Downing Street, 2015), and George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer (as we quaintly refer to our Finance Ministers) (possibly facing an even earlier exit), as ‘two arrogant posh boys who show no remorse, no contrition and no passion to want to understand the lives of others.’

She made this statement by way of clarification of a previous remark to the effect that they were ‘two posh boys who didn’t know the price of milk.’ Personally, I didn’t feel that needed a lot of clarification, but I suppose the word ‘arrogant’ sheds a little more light on their characters and the comment on the lack of passion provides additional insight too.

Now it’s curious but it seems that Conservative women are good at these things. I was amused to read, in his biography of John Adams (wittily entitled John Adams: a Life), John Ferling’s comments on the views of Abigail Adams from the time when her husband was not yet the second President of the United States, but still the first US ambassador to London. Though they were a ‘revolutionary’ couple, the revolution they favoured was merely intended to secure independence; on social issues, they were as Conservative as any Tory could hope.

In fact, they’d refused to support the Boston Tea Party – which happened more or less on their doorstep – and that would probably make them ideal material for the Tea Party today.

Abigail Adams: no flies on her eitherProbably a lot brighter than the second US President
Abigail was a smart woman, probably with a sharper mind than her husband’s. Apparently, she was ‘affronted by the manner in which the English elite treated their own people, and she expressed particular shock at the squalid living conditions endured by a large percentage of the population. She thought England a hopelessly corrupt country.’

It sounds like we were being run by some pretty nasty posh boys back in 1780s too. It’s a tradition, see, and we value tradition.

That’s why people who are facing foreclosure on their home, if they were ever in a position to buy one at all, or worried about paying the next month’s rent if they weren
t, turn out to celebrate the passage of one of the world’s richest women in her dandy little coach.

And cheer their little hearts out for joy.

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