When poor Princess Diana passed away, there was a huge outpouring of grief and anger. At the time, many commentators felt that Britain’s stiff upper lip tradition had disappeared to be replaced by a culture of faking emotions and displaying self indulgent passions.
I was rather sceptical at the time and felt that those who mourned the late Princess Diana were doing a great deal more than was apparent. They were expressing anger at a prurient press, outrage at an apparently unkind Royal Family, disapproval of what appeared to be some kind of cover up etc. The issues were serious ones and, indeed, since then these concerns have unfolded in the current discredit and disrepute of a patently greedy and apparently unconscionable press.
Sadly, the response to the passing away of the much loved Princess did herald a shift in British attitudes. The great British traditions of stiff upper lip, suffering in silence, clubbing together in times of adversity, caring for each other and, Churchill like, always telling it as it is regardless of how upsetting it might be – all these appear to have been shelved for now. We tend to behave more like that adorable prima donna Berlusconi…
What brought these conclusions to the forefront was the recent storm. Already, I had begun to feel that, as a nation, we had become trivial and somewhat dependent on meaningless events because of the obsession with celebrities, self indulgence, the hooping and clapping and screaming during such cretinous programmes as Strictly Come Dancing and other such cheap productions aimed at a compliant and largely unthinking audiences. This has been further confirmed by the BBC’s utterly vacuous habit of standing correspondents outside empty buildings like Whitehall, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and suchlike when the geographical location does nothing to enhance the story – apart from being an unnecessary expense and apart from soaking the poor correspondent to the skin! But the impression was confirmed when I witnessed the national response to the recent storm.
For five days, the nation was terrified out of its wits by a sensational press predicting Armageddon. The BBC once referred to the coming storm as “the storm of the century” when we still had eighty seven years of this century to go. The day of the storm, BBC correspondents scoured the land to find fallen trees and damaged property with the filming making it all look like whole areas had been destroyed.
I stepped out on a quiet Monday morning to find one small branch across our road. Yet, our County Town was deserted! Previously, on Sunday, the panic buying would have been funny if it were not so ugly!
The newspapers on Monday morning were full of doom and gloom when, in fact, they were printed before the storm had even started! There were many photographs of that other “Great Storm” of 1987. Poor Michael Fish was trotted out for us to hear, yet again, how he and his meteorological colleagues had got it wrong and an unknown lady had got it right twenty six years ago. Of course, we had to have Mr Fish again the next day to show us the tree that had fallen down in his garden.
We even had the Prime Minister tweeting reassurances about “the Storm of the Century”.
The great British Blitz tradition has been replaced by the great bling tradition. We live purely on sensationalism, exaggeration, self indulgence, dishonest reporting and, sadly, undignified realities.
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This post was written by Faysal Mikdadi