The English Patient

March 9, 2006

Good film, crap book, IMHO. But that’s not the point of the post.

We’re all victims of what we read, and what we read may be misleading or unrepresentative. But from all I do read — even making the necessary allowances — England, of all the countries of the west, seems to have gone further down the path of cultural suicide than any other.

I was born in England, and, although I no longer have the same affection for it as once I had, much preferring Australia as the place to live, I have a residual fondness for my birthplace that manifests itself in a certain ambivalence when Australia plays England at the cricket.

But I can’t understand why England seems so bent on destroying itself, its culture and its memories. No-one is asking it to.

What inspired this depressing train of thought is a post at Laban Tall’s UK Commentators about the bowdlerisation of nursery rhymes in the UK. But it came after an awful lot of other stories in the same basic vein.


TRADITIONAL nursery rhymes are being rewritten at nursery schools to avoid causing offence to children.Instead of singing “Baa baa, black sheep? as generations of children have learnt to do, toddlers in Oxfordshire are being taught to sing “Baa baa, rainbow sheep?.

The move, which critics will seize on as an example of political correctness, was made after the nurseries decided to re-evaluate their approach to equal opportunities.

Stuart Chamberlain, manager of the Family Centre in Abingdon and the Sure Start centre in Sutton Courtenay, Oxfordshire, told the local Courier Journal newspaper: “We have taken the equal opportunities approach to everything we do.

“This is fairly standard across nurseries. We are following stringent equal opportunities rules. No one should feel pointed out because of their race, gender or anything else.?

In keeping with the new approach, teachers at the nurseries have reportedly also changed the ending of Humpty Dumpty so as not to upset the children and dropped the seven dwarfs from the title of Snow White.

A spokesman for Ofsted, the watchdog which inspects Sure Start centres, confirmed that centres are expected to “have regard to anti-discrimination good practice? and that staff should “actively promote equality of opportunity?.

It’s not just the sheer idiocy of it. It’s the ghastly bureaucratic language of self-justification in which the the relevant authorities wrap themselves. I suppose Mr Chamberlain genuinely believes the stupidity he utters. That’s profoundly sad; and as a human being he merits our pity. But some fools can persuade themselves of anything, if the verbiage is sufficiently unctuous. We should rather pity England, wholly hostage, now, as would appear, to such inanity.

No-one asked for it; no-one objected; no-one lodged a protest; not one parent spoke up for a distressed child. Just nursery administrators deciding it was a terribly bad thing, and launching the ban, then celebrating their suicidal self-righteousness in the language of death.

England is sick, sick, sick. Indeed, it seems it may already have died quietly in the night, without anybody even noticing.

(Via Drinking From Home.)

Where are the English? Dead, I guess. Or down the pub. Do the English still have pubs? I know they don’t have the old London buses, for fear of alienating the disabled.

Update: Again via Drinking From Home,the BBC has stealthily restituted the condition of being English to the national catalogue.


  1. Very depressing. One has come to expect to hear this kind of nonsense in the news, I suppose, but every time it sinks to a new low, I discover that my shudder reflex is not yet exhausted. Nursery rhymes?! (Let’s even forget, for a moment, that the ‘black sheep’ nursery rhyme actually vindicates rather than defames the black sheep — when asked if he has any wool, he responds that yes, actually, he’s in fact got plenty! As if that were ever the point, though. Can’t believe I’ve been reduced to racially deconstructing a nursery rhyme…!)

    Thinking again about the “Body Snatchers” below, it seems to me that speaking of classics, now is the perfect time for all literate Western adults to re-read another relevant classic… Ionesco’s “Rhinoceros.”

  2. Yes, one’s depress-o-meter goes into overdrive at such times.

    * Hot cross buns withdrawn from school tuck shops.

    * Prison officers forbidden to wear the Cross of St George because it wold remind Muslim inmates of the Crusades.

    The list out of Britain seems literally endless.

    And the weird thing is that they’re doing it to themselves. Is it some kind of subconscious  penance for having had an Empire — or for losing it? Beats me.

  3. Speaking of stealthy restitutions, you didn’t tell many people you’d restarted your excellent blog. Naughty!

  4. Speaking of stealthy restitutions, you didn’t tell many people you’d restarted your excellent blog. Naughty!

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