12 July 2011


William Dalrymple excellent in the Speccie on vile Blighty youth.

1 comment :

Simon Baddeley said...

Wellington described his conscripts as 'the very scum of the earth.' Some of the British proletariat (matched by some of the British aristocracy) have a long tradition of oafish fecklessness satirised by Hogarth, Rowlandson and Cruikshank and Swift with his 'yahoos' mooning, vomiting, whooping and hurling excrement. The period of civil discretion and politeness that seemed to have grown up as a result of Victorian moral panic at the hideousness of British public behaviour was a product of close policing, detailed regulation about public swearing and spitting etc., exemplary regal conduct (Queen V "I will be good') which culminated 50 years later in the Ealing Studio version of the decent and often deferential masses - John Mills, stiff upper lip, dignified comportment, accompanied by the shared horrors of two world wars, mass military service and mingling of the classes in a binding event. We're now back to normal. One lot of British -Hounyhyms (?) - are as puzzled and vexed and as contemptuous of the behaviour of another lot of Brits - Yahoos (?) - as any foreign observer.