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11th September 2013: The world's gone mad and I'm the only one who knows
30th August 2013: Isn't sarcasm a wonderful thing?
25th August 2013: Operation Yewtree has turned British justice on its head
13th August 2013: Black is white. Fact. End of.
11th August 2013: Why 'human rights' is nothing of the sort ...
11th August 2013: Electric cars, not as green as they're painted?
6th August 2013: How the British nation treats its friends ...
8th July 2013: The BBC biased? How can that be? They're so NICE!
26th June 2013: Think this country is a bastion of freedom and justice and a shining model for the world? Think again.
18th June 2013: Wrinklies unite, you have nothing to lose but your walking frames!
17th June 2013: is the end finally approaching for this evil woman?
31st May 2013: Now it's official - the BBC really is a left-wing propaganda machine
31st May 2013: Those evil bastards are at it again. Yes, you've guessed it - social services!
27th May 2013: Well-known TV presenter talks sense. No good will come of it.
24th May 2013: British justice is best? Only for the very poor, apparently ...
17th May 2013: Some actual FACTS about climate change (for a change) from actual scientists ...
10th May 2013: An article about that poison gas, carbon dioxide, and other scientific facts (not) ...
10th May 2013: We need to see past the sex and look at the crimes: is justice being served?
8th May 2013: So, who would you trust to treat your haemorrhoids, Theresa May?
8th May 2013: Why should citizens in the 21st Century fear the law so much?
30th April 2013: What the GOS says today, the rest of the world realises tomorrow ...
30th April 2013: You couldn't make it up, could you? Luckily you don't need to ...
29th April 2013: a vote for NONE OF THE ABOVE, because THE ABOVE are crap ...
28th April 2013: what goes around, comes around?
19th April 2013: everyone's a victim these days ...
10th April 2013: Thatcher is dead; long live Thatcher!
8th April 2013: Poor people are such a nuisance. Just give them loads of money and they'll go away ...
26th March 2013: Censorship is alive and well and coming for you ...
25th March 2013: Just do your job properly, is that too much to ask?
25th March 2013: So, what do you think caused your heterosexuality?
20th March 2013: Feminists - puritans, hypocrites or just plain stupid?
18th March 2013: How Nazi Germany paved the way for modern governance?
13th March 2013: Time we all grew up and lived in the real world ...
12th March 2013: Hindenburg crash mystery solved? - don't you believe it!
6th March 2013: Is this the real GOS?
5th March 2013: All that's wrong with taxes
25th February 2013: The self-seeking MP who is trying to bring Britain down ...
24th February 2013: Why can't newspapers just tell the truth?
22nd February 2013: Trial by jury - a radical proposal
13th February 2013: A little verse for two very old people ...
6th February 2013: It's not us after all, it's worms
6th February 2013: Now here's a powerful argument FOR gay marriage ...
4th February 2013: There's no such thing as equality because we're not all the same ...
28th January 2013: Global Warming isn't over - IT'S HIDING!
25th January 2013: Global Warmers: mad, bad and dangerous to know ...
25th January 2013: Bullying ego-trippers, not animal lovers ...
19th January 2013: We STILL haven't got our heads straight about gays ...
16th January 2013: Bullying ego-trippers, not animal lovers ...
11th January 2013: What it's like being English ...
7th January 2013: Bleat, bleat, if it saves the life of just one child ...
7th January 2013: How best to put it? 'Up yours, Argentina'?
7th January 2013: Chucking even more of other people's money around ...
6th January 2013: Chucking other people's money around ...
30th December 2012: The BBC is just crap, basically ...
30th December 2012: We mourn the passing of a genuine Grumpy Old Sod ...
30th December 2012: How an official body sets out to ruin Christmas ...
16th December 2012: Why should we pardon Alan Turing when he did nothing wrong?
15th December 2012: When will social workers face up to their REAL responsibility?
15th December 2012: Unfair trading by a firm in Bognor Regis ...
14th December 2012: Now the company that sells your data is pretending to act as watchdog ...
7th December 2012: There's a war between cars and bikes, apparently, and  most of us never noticed!
26th November 2012: The bottom line - social workers are just plain stupid ...
20th November 2012: So, David Eyke was right all along, then?
15th November 2012: MPs don't mind dishing it out, but when it's them in the firing line ...
14th November 2012: The BBC has a policy, it seems, about which truths it wants to tell ...
12th November 2012: Big Brother, coming to a school near you ...
9th November 2012: Yet another celebrity who thinks, like Jimmy Saville, that he can behave just as he likes because he's famous ...
5th November 2012: Whose roads are they, anyway? After all, we paid for them ...
7th May 2012: How politicians could end droughts at a stroke if they chose ...
6th May 2012: The BBC, still determined to keep us in a fog of ignorance ...
2nd May 2012: A sense of proportion lacking?
24th April 2012: Told you so, told you so, told you so ...
15th April 2012: Aah, sweet ickle polar bears in danger, aah ...
15th April 2012: An open letter to Anglian Water ...
30th March 2012: Now they want to cure us if we don't believe their lies ...
28th February 2012: Just how useful is a degree? Not very.
27th February 2012: ... so many ways to die ...
15th February 2012: DO go to Jamaica because you definitely WON'T get murdered with a machete. Ms Fox says so ...
31st January 2012: We don't make anything any more
27th January 2012: There's always a word for it, they say, and if there isn't we'll invent one
26th January 2012: Literary criticism on GOS? How posh!
12th December 2011: Plain speaking by a scientist about the global warming fraud
9th December 2011: Who trusts scientists? Apart from the BBC, of course?
7th December 2011: All in all, not a good week for British justice ...
9th November 2011: Well what d'you know, the law really IS a bit of an ass ...

 

 
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Henry Hitchings has written a book entitled “Sorry! - the English and their manners” which sounds rather good. Certainly we thought the review by the Sunday Times's Christopher Hart included one of the best summaries of the English character we have seen ...
 

 
The English are humorous but melancholy, law-abiding but loathe being bossed about, and say “Still, mustn't grumble!” after a lengthy grumble which cheers them up enormously. We eschew flowery language but use endless evasions and circumlocutions that sound polite to us, but are maddeningly vague to others. We love saying “I think”, “I gather”, “I would suggest”. Ed Miliband always starts by announcing “I guess what I'm saying is”, but everyone finds that annoying, not just foreigners. We say “presumably”, “possibly”, “arguably” and “perhaps”, qualifiers meant to be considerately unassertive. But then, as Hitchings points out, politeness too can be an assertion of social superiority, and exaggerated, glacial politeness a sharp weapon indeed.
 
We love understatement, a word first used in 1799, says the Oxford English Dictionary, but Hitchings might have added that it is a feature of Anglo-Sazon poetry. In general, we avoid plain speaking unless we're the Duke of Edinburgh who said to the President of Nigeria in his finest nightie-type national fig “You look like you're ready for bed”. Others might think it, but presumably you have to be in the line of succession to 16 different thrones to blurt it out loud.
 
The contradictions of Englishness are still more marked if viewed historically. The Elizabethans were dressy, loud and colourful, the Georgians coarse and drunk, but then by George Orwell's day we were famously quiet and polite, even in football crowds, and an Englishman would form a queue even if he was on his own, said the great author George Mikes. Today, perhaps we are becoming loud and coarse again, judging from any five minutes of reality television.
 
Obstacles to traditional good manners, suggests Hutchings, include dotty ideas about child-rearing, with parents now trying to win the respect of their children, not vice versa, producing only a “cosseted, bratty ego-mania”. Yet along with immense self-esteem and a sense of entitlement, there is much talk of trauma, stress and addiction. Might these things be related?
 
As for any attempts at old-fashioned chivalry, it's a minefield. Hitchings recalls helping an old lady in the street with her heavy shopping bags, and earning this from a passing female cyclist: “Don't think you're something you're not, you sexist prick!”
 

 
The GOS says: I particularly like the thoughts – not sure if they're the author's or the reviewer's – about the link or otherwise between self-esteem, entitlement and trauma etc. It is absolutely true that a politically-driven culture change has taken place, with colossal emphasis now placed on the entitlement of every person to all the goodies of this world – education, free health care, “respect” for one's every foible and peculiarity, money, a nice house, a car, foreign holidays and so on. We even feel entitled never to be criticised – look at the way the judges on “Celebrity Come Dancing”, surely our most repellent TV show, are howled down if they attempt to offer even the smallest bit of constructive criticism. We have created a world our grandparents wouldn't recognise and would probably distrust.
 
At the same time we seem to have developed a habit of victimhood. Whenever something goes wrong, we bleat and complain and expect “them” to help us out. And we're all sick: we have this complaint, or that allergy, or the other phobia which prevents us making a full contribution to society, but of course it simply increases our entitlement so that's OK. Even our enemies are entitled, it seems, those who fight against us or want to kill us or preach against us in the hope that others will be encouraged to kill us. Not to worry – give 'em a council house and lots of benefits and they'll learn to love us. Yeah, right.
 
Of course there have always been people who had rather more than their share of entitlement. The toffs, the aristocracy, the landed gentry, call them what you will. They had more than the rest of us, they felt entitled to it, and no one can argue that this needed (and still needs) a bit of evening-out.
 
Trouble is, we've now given that sense of entitlement to hundreds of thousands of people who were not brought up to it, whose parents were not brought up to it. They don't really know what to do with it, and lack the intellectual rigour to work it out. It's tempting to think that a nice dose of poverty for a few years would do our society a lot of good.
 
But that would be ridiculous ... wouldn't it?

 

 
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