Is it a cultural thing?

Since arriving in the UK, my abnormally insensitive mind has begun to pick up on things about the place that most people probably already knew. The most striking of these things is that theft is an important part of British culture, and the more grandiose the better. Prior to coming here I was well aware of the history of the British Empire and how the place I’m from was mercilessly used for British self interest, wrested from the hands of its original inhabitants. I was aware this was also true of many, many countries, all over the world. I was calmly well educated as to how this was based on an immoral culture of theft on the part of the British.

But I thought top hats and tea (apparently also stolen from afar) were far too quaint to belong to a bad culture, so I brushed my education aside. “All this evidence and logic doesn’t really mean anything.” I convinced myself. “Britain is still a medieval fantasy land where everyone will love me and all my dreams will come true.”

But then I watched the news on one of the first nights I spent in the UK. There was a story on a dramatic bank heist. This heist involved happy-go-lucky crims abseiling down elevator shafts and drilling giant holes into secure vaults, evading sleepy security guards and making their getaway with untaxed millions. The crims took the shady contents of secret cabinets, in this bigger-crim swindling escapade. The news crews were all over this. They couldn’t get enough.

I thought that was it. The heist gang would surely be hightailing it through the Italian Alps by now, singing their successes on a bus. However they made a critical mistake; the complication in the media’s action film, if you will. They missed CCTV cameras in the elevators which they used to cart the gold out of the bank in, disguised as bin men. What the media then did with this footage was the point at which I started to suspect that this was all a bit odd. The news gave the crims nicknames.

They didn’t name them to suggest who they were or give identifiers for the purposes of clear exposition. No. Instead the clearly super-excited BBC newsreader gave them names seemingly inspired by the Italian Job. For example there was “The Gent,” so named, and in gleeful tones, because the news crews believed him to have shiny shoes, evidenced by the grainy-as-a-beach CCTV footage. I realised they were jumping at every excuse to masturbate over this, admittedly pretty boss, crime.

Maybe this over-excitement runs deeper though. Maybe its why there’s pennies here; more opportunities to short-change people. Little thefts, British simple pleasures. Maybe it’s why they hate being in the EU; “what is this ‘Sharing’ you speak of?” they might wonder. You only have to look at a brief synopsis of the Falkland Islands conflict to realise that Britain likes to make a big deal over, even re-theft of, stolen goods. However, by “runs deeper” I meant sex, maybe, yeah why not.

Has all that British reserve, sexual oppression and keeping-face to convince everyone that civility breeds superiority made simple crimes like theft as exciting as a threesome on a private jet? I would wager yes, because I’m writing this article and you can’t stop me. There are, I’m sure, many that would argue “yeah, love of crime is just human nature and it’s in all of us and we’re all unique and beautiful all over the world but we’re all actually the same.” But it’s clearly Britain that has a culture which uses human nature to affect its culture in order to disguise its basic human nature so as to trample other cultures in order to satisfy its collective basic human nature. Or, said with greater complexity, “They act all full of themselves, but they just want your stuff.”

Now that I’ve pleased all the anti-empire commie readers I’m going to have a cup of tea.

-W

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A hot cup of snobbery

Have you ever thought about your taste in coffee? Probably not much, but consider now what kind of coffee you order and whether you can actually tell the difference between different shops, or indeed between the heavy handed descriptions of the rainforest the beans were loving ripped from? Even if you think you are in fact a Baristafficionadette (add it to your dictionary, judgemental bastard) and accept your caffeine habit confidently in good humour, I think it’s still possible to be surprised by how much a snooty culture can sink into your personality without you realising it.

I happened upon my snootier side after arriving in a new country, thinking that pretty much everything would be culturally the same in this modern world of ours. I was wrong. The whole place seemed to sell this brown stuff with pond scum on top that it was calling cappuccino. Prior to arriving I had heard rumours but I thought they were exaggerated. I thought, “This can’t be true” and laughed it off as the boring and snooty judgements of smarmy Australians who think too highly of themselves. Naturally though, my true colours would be revealed as I sipped my first British mud-bean-brew. I started to morph; my face was overcome by a ratty beard, my top button inexplicably did itself up with no tie to cover it, my pants became skinny and my perfect eyesight wanted framing. After I’d stopped wincing at that “coffee” in England I saw myself for what I truly was, the scum on top of that British cappuccino. I was a snooty arse wannabe hipster.

This was a shocking revelation to me. I had taken such care to avoid becoming such a lowly form of life and yet I had still failed horribly. How could this have happened, did I really have this little control over my life? This of course beggared another question. Am I still changing? As I write this down I’ll have had about my 8th daily cup of delicious tea on a saucer, so the answer is yes. For the weak minded, like myself, the world around you will influence you quickly, bend your mind, make you say “move along, move along.” This will happen without your knowledge whether you work for worthwhile experiences to change yourself by or not. So sitting around and thinking “I’ll never become a coffee snooting hipster!” while chugging back another latte out of a Toby jug on Lonsdale St will certainly not do anything toward that end.

Now I am a tea drinking coffee snob in a land without my now precious distilled rainforest injustice elixir. I shall soon be wearing a top hat and wonky teeth! I imagine that if I were to travel somewhere with decent coffee, like Italy for instance, It would go something like this;

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I actually drew this terrible cartoon on the back of an envelope, proving that I have no personality.

The truth of the matter is of course that if you worry much about how the things in and around your life are molding you as a person then you will miss out on actually experiencing your life. Everyone is molded by whatever experiences they have and worrying about it is just another fear standing in the way of your pursuing what you want in life.

Lol, I totally made you think this article had a serious side didn’t I. Well joke’s on you. I just write bad jokes. Why don’t you critique my lack of confidence over a macchiato.

-W