What do you think of the UK?

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wojtek
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May 22 2016 00:03
What do you think of the UK?

For the foreigners, what are your thoughts on the politics, culture, the people, etc.?

And for the natives, what do you think 'Britishness' or 'Englishness' is?

I can't make up my mind as to whether I want to confine it to the UK, Britain or England - they are all such loaded terms.

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Juan Conatz
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May 22 2016 01:48

I think I've had this conversation with my girlfriend in the last year.

I really have no desire to travel. The United States is massive, and there are so many different cultures that it would take a lifetime to even be exposed to them in all in this single country. I've already been to around 15 states, plus Puerto Rico. I've known people who have never left their city or their state in their lifetime.

But I wouldn't mind going to the UK. Not so much for political reasons, although it would be nice finally meeting other members of the libcom group, or posters I've "known" for years. No, I think I'd go because elements of popular culture are pretty familiar, but different enough that I've always been curious about them. I guess, specifically Caribbean or black influenced urban culture and music. That's what I grew up in, with hip-hop, salsa, reggaton etc, and I see grime, dancehall, dnb, garage or whatever they call it now the rough equivalents.

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Juan Conatz
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May 22 2016 02:41

Oh, also, everything I know about the UK I've learned from libcom, rinse.fm, WW2 documentaries, Top Boy and Misfits.

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The Pigeon
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May 22 2016 05:27

I have no idea what Europe is like, but Britain seems more cramped, and capitalistic than the rest of Western Europe, also kind of scummier, if you will pardon me saying. I met a British gentleman last year and he told me that there isn't much wilderness like in the US, which sounds disappointing. But Scotland seems like it would make up for that with all the islands and fishpeople coming out of trapdoors.

I am more interested in places like France, but I like the idea of going to a completely separate country that speaks English, and also has their own weird expressions, as long as it's not Australia. England seems to be more capitalistic than other places, but I think the people are more unique than continental Europeans, which seems nice. Just vague impressions floating in my brain... I will tell you that when I do hear a British accent, it's either sounds like a fruit cocktail or a nice little sandwich.

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Noah Fence
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May 22 2016 05:31
Juan Conatz wrote:
Oh, also, everything I know about the UK I've learned from libcom, rinse.fm, WW2 documentaries, Top Boy and Misfits.

Top Boy is fantastic. From the vibe I get from a few people I know it's very realistic.

I don't know how you define Brithishness or whatever. It's a false concept. I do love it here though but then I'm fairly privileged. Life is pretty easy in many ways and I live deep in beautiful countryside.
I've never been that bothered about travelling but now that I'm unable to I crave it. I'm supposed to be going to Barcelona today with my GF and son - it's his 18th birthday present. We were goi g to take the CNT walking tour which I was majorly excited about but the medics have told me I can't go.
I have always wanted to visit the states but can't get a visa coz of my criminal record. All this shit sucks and I feel really sad about it this morning.
I guess what I'm trying to say is if you do get the opportunity to travel then take it.
Luckilym, I've got an anarchist friend I met online from California coming to visit in two weeks and a couple more including a Libcom poster coming over from Canada in July to visit me. Mountains and Mohamed and all that.
Also, I really hope that migrants feel welcome here. I know a bunch of Kurdish guys that now feel very at home here and say they have been made to feel very welcome which I must say surprises me but is great to hear.

bastarx
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May 22 2016 06:30

Cold, wet and full of Poms. 2/10

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Schmoopie
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May 22 2016 06:59

I like my little part of it which stretches From Devon and Cardiff in the West to London and Kent in the East. Anything north of Watford or south of Portsmouth is a foreign country for me. Does that make me a Little Englander? What is a Little Englander?

The UK is shit.

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Britain seems more cramped, and capitalistic than the rest of Western Europe, also kind of scummier, if you will pardon me saying.

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Noah Fence
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May 22 2016 07:00
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The UK is shit.

It really isn't(I mean the geographical area) Capitalism is shit. Some people are shit. Your statement is way too broad.

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May 22 2016 07:54

To clarify: I love the country (Britain) and it's people (those with no special status) but I hate the nation state (UK).

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May 22 2016 07:17
Schmoopie wrote:
To clarify: I love the country (Britain) and it's people (those with no special status) but I hate the nation state (UK).

Ah, great, glad you weren't being a 'everything is shit' person.

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Schmoopie
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May 22 2016 08:04
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Ah, great, glad you weren't being a 'everything is shit' person.

I know what you mean. That is an unhelpful attitude. Just for you, Noah, here is a foreigner's perception of England in the summertime:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=lsRVO8NuSQo

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May 22 2016 08:09

Over the years I’ve lived in several places in the UK. Glasgow, London, Coventry, Birmingham, the Black Country, etc. There are some similarities though plenty of differences in the attitudes of the people I’ve met. There is also plenty of diversity and open ground in the UK if you’re prepared to seek in out. It is the south east of England where there is clutter and congestion.

On the English side of Wales, in Shropshire, walk the Long Mynd. On top it looks like open moor, though there are hidden deep valleys. In spring the Pembrokeshire coast is awash with wild flowers and the sea birds nesting on the cliffs. In north Wales where many speak Welsh, when last I was there some had been burning out the holiday cottages. Generally speaking the people were very friendly.

In East Anglia, where I am now, it was only last year they built a dual carriageway to link Norwich to the rest of England. I’m told when people move here they tend to stay. Some folk have never left the area even on holiday.

So to sum up, everywhere is the same – they are all different.

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jef costello
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May 22 2016 08:14
wojtek wrote:
For the foreigners, what are your thoughts on the politics, culture, the people, etc.?

And for the natives, what do you think 'Britishness' or 'Englishness' is?

I can't make up my mind as to whether I want to confine it to the UK, Britain or England - they are all such loaded terms.

I don't think Britishness or Englishness really have definitions, hence the trouble trying to define them for citizenship tests etc. I think Britishness was more of an idea/approach in the empire years and as the country has progressively lost that power and self-confidence there has been a loss of the self-confidence (arrogance) that founded it. There wasn't really an identity, such as is constructed in France, more an idea of leadership, the mother of all parliaments, workshop of the world, industrial revolution etc.
I think the terms are loaded but they also have some geographical relevance to them.
I still feel a strong connection to the area I grew up in and I'm sad that I'll never be able to afford to live there again (unless I fancy a room in a house share...) but that's an emotional connection to the place and the people (a lot of whom have gone anyway) and it doesn't really have anything to do with Britishness. I do like the darker side to British humour and comedy, but like most good things I think it's more universal than we tend to think. It's easier to conflate our country with what we think our own values are. People ask me about the Brexit and I have no idea, I don't have a connection to the country in that way (I'm not sure anyone does) and when I thought I knew what the general feeling of the population was I was probably just wrong.
I do feel sad that there seems to be a real lack of hope in a general sense. I'm no Labour supporter, far from it, but I remember Blair being elected and there was a real sense that there would be changes, and that things would get better and it doesn't seem like there is that kind of optimism anymore. I'm also living in a deeply pessimistic country where youth unemployment is, if anything, worse than the UK although again this could just be a product of age. Some of my students are taking part in the protests and I think a lot of it is fuelled by hope.
I think maybe I need to start getting involved in politics again, once my leg is healed I'd definitely like to observe a demo or two.

Sister Ray
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May 22 2016 10:21
Noah Fence wrote:
We were goi g to take the CNT walking tour which I was majorly excited about

Out of interest, what is this CNT walking tour and where can I find out more about it?

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May 22 2016 12:14
wojtek wrote:
And for the natives, what do you think 'Britishness' or 'Englishness' is?

Similarly with sociological definitions of class or weird notions of 'class pride', I'm not interested in definitions of 'Britishness' or 'Englishness' either. But let's not allow any of that to prevent me from sticking my oar in wink

I know Tory and Labour politicians have been banging on about this sort of stuff for years, whether looking at it in sociological terms or as some kind of patriotic litmus test - though it's normally a 'cricket test' they use. And as someone born in England, who has lived all but three of my 50-something years in this country, I honestly ain't got a scooby about cricket. Which means, according to that old scrote Norman Tebbit (and why isn't he fucking dead yet?), I'm not proper English (or British).

There's a lot I love about this country though. There's some really beautiful countryside, lots of greenery, and the cityscapes can be beautiful too - though many of the best bits are always being knocked down or gentrified. There are many things I'm not keen on, too. Some of these I loathe.

The people who live here are probably no better, no worse than the people who live in any other country - though we do have our fair share of resident arseholes. I'm using a generic 'average man/woman on the street' by the way, whoever they may be and for whatever that's worth, with no indication of class or location. I don't think generic types work particularly well anywhere, but in terms of indicating some measure of 'Englishness' or 'Britishness' they work less well, especially with all the cultural/sub-cultural variety you get depending on people's class, background, what football club they support, which borough, town, area, region or UK national entity we're talking about, or where they or their family have emigrated from.

I grew up in Salford and I'm regularly visiting Manchester and Salford for family and football. But as an adult, I've lived in Stoke-on-Trent, Newcastle-Under-Lyme, Stafford, various parts of East and North London, Hastings/St Leonard's-on-Sea and now Leicester. The experience of each of these places was completely different, and that includes the various areas and boroughs within London I spent 16 years in. That's something I've always quite liked about this country. But then, I know you also get similar variety in other countries too.

The last 12 years I've lived a couple of hundred yards from what the UK tabloids call 'Britain's most multi-cultural high street' (google it if you like). My next door neighbours on one side are from Lithuania, the other side are Afro-carribean. Across the road are a family of Asians from Tanzania, there's an n-th generation Leicester born-and-bred guy and his grown up kids who visit fairly regularly, then there's some young Romanians, also a Polish family and an old Irish fella who lives on his own but who's grown up son checks up on to see he's all right. We all get on pretty well and don't mither each other too much, despite the proximity of two-up, two-down terraced-house life. And that's something else I quite like about it here as well.

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Noah Fence
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May 22 2016 12:31
Sister Ray wrote:
Noah Fence wrote:
We were goi g to take the CNT walking tour which I was majorly excited about

Out of interest, what is this CNT walking tour and where can I find out more about it?

Just a Google search will find it for you but this has got some pictures

https://www.tripadvisor.com/LocationPhotoDirectLink-g187497-d2336674-i65...

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Steven.
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May 22 2016 17:46

That's an interesting question.

I live here, and I do really like it, overall.

I couldn't care less about any sort of nationalism, however I self-identify as English more than British or UKer or whatever. I guess primarily because I have only lived in England in the UK. Not that "England" is a homogenous entity by any means. And I guess I don't identify primarily as a "Londoner" because while I've lived here for 20 years and gone to school here since I was 7, I'm from the outside.

But even London is far from homogenous. Some people say that London is basically a different country from the rest of the UK. Which is kind of true, but different parts of London are completely different from one another - say Lambeth and Kensington & Chelsea.

I've travelled a fair bit and lived for short periods in a couple of other countries. However I think if things stay relatively as they are, there is nowhere else I would rather live, long-term.

I love the US, and go there as much as I can. However there is no way I would want to live there and be a worker (long hours, no holidays, insecurity, shit healthcare). And other places, say in Europe (like Germany, Scandinavia, France etc), may have better working conditions, but just don't have the same kind of volume and quality of culture and diversity that we have in London. And Australia is too fucking hot and full of things that will eat you, and Australians.

I do want to spend more time seeing more of the UK, as I don't really get out of London that much, and I've probably seen more of the US than I have of my own country!

Juan Conatz wrote:
Oh, also, everything I know about the UK I've learned from libcom, rinse.fm, WW2 documentaries, Top Boy and Misfits.

ha ha, that must give you a pretty funny view of it, but probably pretty accurate. My view of Ireland is based entirely on Father Ted.

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Cooked
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May 22 2016 18:36

UK (London) is hard work. Everything takes more effort, everyday stuff as well as wage labour. Housing which I could afford (houseshare, then mini flat) was of appalling standard.

Weirdly enough I loved it! Despite the insane pressure on everything it is a living place.

London is a real urban culture which gives a buzz. You can wander aimlessly for hours and be sure you'll be OK because there's always a pub when you need it. (I know they are declining)

Gender roles are a bit over the top and the class system very explicit.

That's a brief Scandinavian perspective. Could write an essay...

S. Artesian
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Jul 15 2017 03:29

Removed in protest of Libcom policies allowing posting of texts by racists

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May 23 2016 06:46
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I could easily think Britain is a nation of alcoholics.

S. Artesian is spot on and reveals the secret of the success of UK capitalism.

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Finally, I just told them "Underneath this suit and tie, I'm really a girl." That stopped the questions... for awhile.

In the UK, the government now recommends an equal quantity of alcohol consumption for women as it does for men. It's called sexually equality: both sexes are advised to poison themselves at an equal rate. Drink!

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May 23 2016 07:26

A major UK contribution to the world is English bitter. I well remember the first time sitting in Cockermouth, and supping Jennings the local brew. The soft water made it appear strange and soapy. However the second pint revealed its true wondrous taste.

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May 23 2016 07:48
Auld-bod wrote:
A major UK contribution to the world is English bitter. I well remember the first time sitting in Cockermouth, and supping Jennings the local brew. The soft water made it appear strange and soapy. However the second pint revealed its true wondrous taste.

Auld Bod, you truly are a marvelous, interesting and kindly fellow and yet you casually make the absolutelty outrageous assertion that real ale has some positive qualities. It is a well known fact that strong lager is the only beer fit for human consumption and the the beer reserved for the alcohol illuminati is the sweet nectar of the wonderful Purple Tin, Tennants Super, which I am reliably informed, runs in glistening golden streams through all of heaven collecting in the the favourite landmark of our passed brothers and sisters, The Jakey Falls.
Now that you have this knowledge within you I hope your epiphany is swift and that to your lips, you never again raise a flagon of muddy water with a couple of rusty nails and a little bail of hay in it.

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May 23 2016 08:52

Tenants is fookin rank, as is its rival, Special Brew (which, if the label is owt to go by, the Queen of Denmark sups on her royal park bench). I used to drink both years ago, purely to get pissed quick. Now I'm more sensible (allegedly), developed finesse and go for the craft ales and a nice single malt. Mind you, I never get pissed either. Haven't been proper bladdered since 1989.

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May 23 2016 09:32

Fucking hell Serge, I never had you down as a folk bearded Morris dancer skipping round the maypole hollering 'hey nonny nonny' at the top of your voice. Pah! Craft ales forsooth.
And listen up, don't ever mention the Viking piss imposter Special Brew in the same breath as God's gift to the taste buds and brain cells again.
For all my speed, crack and heroin habits and the many sensual pleasures they bestowed upon me, nothing comes anywhere close to Super T. They have left me with many fragrant memories, but the Tennants has left me with a for more palpable gift, namely a place on th liver transplant list. What a treat! You don't get that with your piss weak pond water.

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May 23 2016 10:19

I believe Tennants Super and Spesh have had to reduce their alcoholic content due the high mortality rate of regular users. So maybe what you get these days is a bit more palatable. Either way, I'm sticking to my nice bottle of Old Ballsack or whatever my craft ale of the day is called.

S. Artesian, now you've introduced alcohol to the discussion, it looks like this thread has found its true level.

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May 23 2016 10:24

I can't believe I forgot to mention booze.

Ed, one of the libcom admins, moved to Italy (where amusingly, Tennants and Special Brew are sold as the equivalent of fancy Trappist beers in the UK) and went out for drinks with some Italian friends. After the first round he asked who wanted another drink, and they answered "Why?"

S. Artesian wrote:
Several actually asked me, "Why do you drink so little?" They couldn't believe me when I told them the reasons why, and that after all these years, I really had no desire to have more than a single pint, or a single drink.

Finally, I just told them "Underneath this suit and tie, I'm really a girl." That stopped the questions... for awhile.

That made me lol, for real

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May 23 2016 10:31

I’ve had some very good ale at the Upton-upon-Severn Folk festival, where the Morris dancers take over many of the narrow streets, all knee bells and whacking sticks. Guess that would be purgatory for you Noah. Even better is their Jazz festival, again run over several days, dozens of gigs, all types of jazz, and every pub blasting it out. Not for anyone as sensitive as you Noah.

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May 23 2016 11:07

Funnily enough AB, the techno band of which I am a member have a gig at little festival in Chelmsford on Sunday and we are currently trying to employ the members of a pagan Morris dancing group from Maldon to do their thing during one of our numbers.
Now I'll bet that causes you not a little surprise?

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May 23 2016 11:26

Totally stunned.
Maldon I've heard that's where they do the mud racing. Probably a good bunch of folk.

fidel gastro
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May 23 2016 13:00

What do I think of the UK? Very conformist and conservative, class system going stronger than ever before. Very sexist and xenophobic. Too many buns, too much sportswear, crudeness, very uneducated unrefined sheeple. A rich culture (Keats, Shelley, Byron, Wilde, Morris, Russell) neglected and ignored by most of the British public who much prefer the X Factor, Facebook etc. I guess it's not always the case but on the whole thats what the people are like. The most popular newspapers being the Daily Mail and the Sun. A working class that are their own worst enemy. The ale houses and countryside are nice though, as is the national dish (being curry ofcourse).

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May 23 2016 12:01

Too many vegans!