Well, with the oldest-living Queen launching a YouTube channel* in time for her Christmas Message, I'm feeling more than a little flummoxed. This sure isn't the tradition I remember from my childhood - which was more along the lines of "What do you mean, she's on all FOUR channels!!!" Over at Crying All The Way to the Chip Shop, Lee spent some time earlier this month discussing why Britain doesn't have the same great tradition of "road songs" as the United States. There are obvious geographic limitations - what with Britain being tiny and all - but he argues that there is also a cultural and spiritual chasm between the two countries as well:
"...The truth is, we (Brits, that is) don't look at life and see endless bright horizons and dream big dreams, we're a gloomy, glass-half-empty kind of people and who find idealistic American positivity a little embarrassing and phony. Americans, bless their hearts, do still say things like "you can be anything you want to be" and believe it (despite evidence to the contrary) because they're happily unburdened by history while we've had way too much of it and frankly can't work up the enthusiasm for anything anymore as a result. We built an empire and won a bunch of wars and now we just want to put our feet up and enjoy England's plucky failures ...
These days the stubborn refusal to "have a nice day" feels like a defiant poke in the eye of today's noisy, amped-up consumer culture (created by America, of course) which bangs you over the head with its global franchises, useless gadgets, trashy television, and blinged-up celebrities. In the face of that, being miserable old bastards may be the last thing we have to hold on to that's truly ours".
Here in Canada, we have the worst of both worlds: a faint tie to British history and past glories, a tremendously long and expansive horizon, and very little history of our own.
That means we measure our voyages in hours ("How far?" "About four and a half hours.") and our travelogues tend to be overladen with descriptions of the scenery ("Trees. Loads and loads of trees. Oh, and an iron mine.").
Unless you're driving through Saskatchewan, which is three hours of flat. And a uranium mine.
We're really into that whole consumerism thing, though. And the franchises. A mall or a neighbourhood can't really be considered to have "made it" until it's overburdened with American franchises.
*or ,as The Register notes, "One would like to wish you a Happy 2.0 Christmas"
[tags] England, Half English, nostalgia, Empire, Queen, consumerism [/tags]