The third in a series of posts On Being English.
I’m a fan of Dara, having seen him live, and enjoyed his sharp witty banter on telly. I started reading his book and for the first few chapters it seemed like he was just putting his tour diary in print. But I persevered and it turned out that Dara has some excellent insights on the English condition, backed up with lots of research so that I ended up stacked full of English trivia, such as the Balti was invented in Birmingham in 1977 by a Bangladeshi, and similarly the Tikka Masala was invented by a Bangladeshi in the UK in the 50s.
He was excellent at pointing out the stupidity of the negative view the English have of themselves. The expectation of failure of any big national project from the Dome to the NHS to the Olympics to Heathrow terminal 5, which he goes on to say is one of the best in Europe. He comprehensively shows how the Brits are around 5th in the world in areas from trade to sport. Yet that isn’t good enough for us. He rounds on the daft mentality that if we’re not at the top we’re somehow complete failures and I heartily concur with his positivity. But he says that the perennially negative bleaters cover up the fact there are many less vocal pragmatic and positive people.
He also touches on “England’s contrived nostalgia for a rural idyll”. Here here.
So an easy read, and if you read in your head with his Irish brogue, it is of course more funny…
If you want a more incisive read I’d suggest Paxman’s book on the English.