I would just like to say, beforehand, that I know all about all the blood, torture, thievery, greed, malice, and pain that comes with any great Empire; and that the Welsh, Scots, and particularly the Irish probably do not see England (Britain) in quite the same light that I do; and also, that, regardless, I have my own v special love for Scotland and especially Ireland (I am part-Irish) that is wholly different from my supine adoration of England; and also that this post is meant in the most general and fun sort of way. And, so, off we go:
KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON
What about plucky little England, hunh? Here we have a tiny little chain of islands off the coast of mainland Europe, that has never had a significantly large population, and has barely any natural resources to speak of (except its' citizens; more on them in a minute) that eventually found itself the largest and most powerful Empire in the world.
Not to mention, Elizabeth I's Da, told the Pope and the Catholic Church to take a holy hike, and made it stick. And, how the hell, did Elizabeth I take a motley, fractured, messed-up, in the midst of a Religious Civil War citizenry and defeat mighty Spain and put England on the map, in the first place?
And, whilst all this Empire building was happening they somehow found time to create the greatest literary canon in Western Culture. (Yeah, yeah, I know the Greeks invented theatre and poetry in the West, and philosophy, and just about everything else, really, but, like you see with Shakespeare, The Beatles, and the Stones, the English are just so damn good at riffing on other people's forms.)
How did they do this? It is the people.
Now, I suppose you could call me a sentimental old sod, who has watched way too many Ealing films, always chuffed, watching them put the kettle on as the bombs are falling. (Never forget that bombs were falling on Liverpool when both John Lennon and Ringo Starr were born.) But make fun of the "Stiff Upper Lip" at your own peril. It is an attitude our own nation should adopt, but seems nowhere near to doing. Even when my mother was living in Switzerland (oh boie, is that a blog post for ya?! Ardent Henry on The Cantons of Helvetica? But I will save that beast for another day) and used to go to London quite frequently, all this right after scary nine-one-one, she seemed so impressed with the (not the right word, really) blase, or (not the right word, either- both French words, that is why) nonchalant attitude of Londoners in the midst of an attack on the Western World.
There is something in the soil. Perhaps, it is terroir (yet another French word)?
When all is said and done, and they are grading the great Western Empires, I will take England over the United States every day of the week. And that is even knowing that the United States at this point is the precocious, mouthy, spoiled tween that has grown up way too fast, but is still v young.
(England still makes terrible cars and lousy food, though. You cannot have everything.)
P.S. My upstairs neighbors are Limeys, and they just had a baby boy, Henry. Little Hank. Little King Henry.