OK so occasionally folk ask me why I left Ireland and moved to England, there is much to admire about the English but the reflex answer is about the weather, you know, there are only two seasons in Ireland, the rainy season and the monsoon season – although everyone in Norn Iron knows we have an additional season – the Marching Season :)
I’ve blogged before the reflex answer about the weather, it’s either raining or it’s about to rain and it’s very noticeable when one comes to live in London that the weather here is so nice, you get on the plane at Aldergrove and you’re swathed in seven layers of dead sheep and you arrive at Heathrow and you’re melting. It’s always warmer in London than in Belfast, it’s like God drew a line somewhere about Birmingham and clouds are not allowed to pass down beyond it. As kids we used to look enviously at newspapers headlines proclaiming ‘What a scorcher!” and this wasn’t a reference to our arses suffering the effects of last nights curry but a reference to a heat wave most of England was experiencing but didn’t deign it’s way to come visit Belfast.
It’s noticeable that we Irish are more tolerant of the cold than south Londoners, I have distinct memories of going swimming in Strangford Lough in April but here they seem to keep wrapped up warmly until June. Mind you, it’s February and I’m actually penning this from Barcelona this week but I’m walking around in just a jumper (why do Americans call them sweaters, that sounds a bit horrible, here’s your sweater… gross…or is that just the way my mind works?) and it’’s noticeable that practically every Barcelonian here is wrapped up in heavy coat and scarf and some even have gloves on, but it’s soooo warm here! OK OK I know it’s February but if I had brought my swimming trunks I’d go swimming in the Med – if I thought (a) my clothes wouldn’t get swiped and (b) I wouldn’t get arrested then I would go skinny dipping..
Bugger, this blog entry was meant to be about England, why I live in England and what’s to admire about this/that country but i seem to have wandered off the point slightly. OK, I’m going to go out and explore and will finish this off later..
MUCH later! FOCUS!
So, why England, why move here to London, the ‘old enemy’, what’s to admire about the English? The English tend to get a bad press throughout the whole world of being stiff, formal and “I say old chap” but when you look at it closely the English tend to be quite the opposite, you see, the English like to protest a lot and as an (ex) Protestant from Norn Iron I tend to find some common cause with protesters. The Egyptians are protesting right this very minute about President Mubarak and I feel I ought to be there joining in with my protestant (ahem) I mean protesting brothers (and sisters!)
Americans like to protest too, from the Boston Tea party, the anti-Vietnam riots, the civil rights movement and even now it’s the turn of the (ahem) Tea party to protest, so I feel a kinship with Americans too.
But back to England, the English actually do like to protest and not protest quietly and meekly but protest violently, and usually it’s against the government, the English love a good riot even as long ago as 1380 when they had The Peasants Revolt which was about a new Poll tax and then once again on March 30th 1990 over (surprise surprise) the Poll Tax again!
In 1810 workers in Nottingham rioted over the introduction of new weaving machines that would put them out of jobs and this spread to Lancashire and Yorkshire, at one point there were more soldiers guarding textile machinery in England than actually fighting Napoleon in Spain.
And then the Swing riots, the Days of May riots and my favourite riots, the Liverpool Riots which ended up with the government of the day parking thee warships in the Mersey to restore order after failed contract negotiations with policemen, I mean to say, if you have to call in three effing warships to quell a riot then two thoughts occur to me (a) it must have been one hell of a riot! and (b) your Human Resources Department probably need retraining!
And then there are the anti war Iraq protests, the St. Paul’s riots, the Miners riots, the Brixton riots which incidentally made it into folklore, prior to the Brixton riots we would say ‘Red sky at night, Shepard’s delight’ meaning it was going to be a nice day weather wise tomorrow but after the Brixton riots the expression was changed to ‘Red sky at night, Brixtons alight!’
Bugger, I’ve come back to the weather, haven’t I? I give up!