Sunday, 5 September 2010

"I Love British Culture"

If I am frank, I am not Katy Perry's greatest fan. In an interview with the Sunday Times Magazine today she likens herself to Christian rockers who are, "doing it because it is their ministry," singing to tell stories and, "change people's lives." I'm not sure whose lives, other than those of teenage boys, have been changed by candy floss erupting from her bosom or her proclamation of kissing girls and liking it. I don't think her 'teachings' can be compared to the word of God. I am not going to pretend to be religious, but I at least appreciate that Christian rockers probably practice what they preach by going to church and stuff, not once in that whole video did I see Ms. Perry even French-kiss another girl.

For the record, I quite liked Hot 'n' Cold.

For those of you that don't know, Perry is dating and will apparently soon marry the British comedian and actor, Russell Brand. During the for-mentioned interview, when talking about her love of the eccentricities that hail from our little isles she says, “I love British culture.” But, Ms. Perry, do tell us what it is about our people that you enjoy so very much, “... it [Britain] continues to hold onto its manners, people still seem to give a shit about social status and it seems like they really don't want to be embarrassed.” She then adds as an afterthought, “I mean, English girls are sometimes the dirtiest girls. I only know that because my boyfriend has had a few... interactions.”

Okay, so she got the last bit right, but I find it very hard to identify with the other three for the following reasons; my family at dinner time, the fact Nikki from Big Brother is probably more popular than Camilla Parker Bowles and the extent of sillyness that surrounds every Red Nose Day.

It is, of course, not Katy's fault. The view she has of my country is that of the very traditional, stiff-upper-lipped Britain of about sixty years ago, and a view that many across the world still hold. Often, when foreigners discover my nationality (usually as soon as I open my mouth), coos of, 'English gentleman', 'top hats' and 'tea' fill my ears. Granted, I drink an awful lot of tea, but I believe the traditional English gentleman is well and truly dead.

I don't think this is sad, I just think our culture has changed somewhat since the 1950s, but we have not managed to convey that to the rest of the world. Also I think we are still struggling to decide what British culture is for ourselves; curry or fish and chips, Glastonbury or Notting Hill, London or the North. It is a topic that reappears every now and again in the media, I have even touched, and lamented about our lack of ability to pin it down in the past. But no more.

I particularly like Britishness because it is not defined by a sushi roll, an Eiffel tower or a national dream. For me now, Britishness includes our liberal attitude towards lifestyle, politics and opinions. Our wide range of national papers are a testament to this. We create some of the best music and art in the Western world, coupled with some of the greatest educational institutions on the planet. We have a killer sense of humour, I know no other group of people who is so ready to make a fool of themselves for a laugh. I can't think of many nationalities that will sit on a surfboard in the freezing cold, pouring rain and then describe the situation as beautiful.

What is it that you think makes us British? Whether you are foreign or not, I would be curious to know.

The above may seem a bit jumbled. Maybe I am just feeling rather patriotic because I am back home for the last time until I come back from China next summer... again. Katy Perry just ticked me off a little, that's all.