Heroism? No, Stoicism (posted 26th July 2007) Mike Russell has ventured into difficult territory (as he recognises) with his blog for Wednesday 25th July about Scottish identity, but as usual he carries it off with verve and insight. It is as dangerous as it is common to speculate about national characteristics. What are often described as cultural or social traits are typically not specific to that country or culture, it is just these traits manifest themselves in different ways and to different degrees.
I remember that one English friend when I worked in Nottingham ventured
that people down there thought I was too "aggressive" (who are
you calling aggressive, pal?), while I in turn often thought the English
were too reserved and uncommunicative.
This in turn has led to some unconsciously hilarious reporting. In a desparate search to make a drama out of a crisis (sorry for cliche, but nonetheless true) the Daily Telegraph invited readers to send in their own stories in the context of what the Telegraph described as "tales of extraordinary human endeavour". While it is funny at one level, it is also indicative of the tabloidisation of much of the the so-called quality media today.
Someone should have tapped the Telegraph reporter gently on the shoulder and pointed out problems with their "tales of extraordinary human endeavour". The Telegraph actually said (and notice the "fought" in the following quote);
"Tales of extraordinary human endeavour have emerged as thousands
of people fought to get to safety and limit the damage. In the Herefordshire
village of Sutton St Nicholas, a 95-year-old woman was rescued by a neighbour
as she clung to her sofa while water levels rose over her boots. One family,
including an eight-month-old baby, was dragged by firemen a mile through
waist-high water to safety. And an intrepid postman used his own car to
carry out a special delivery of the new Harry Potter book to children
in Evesham, Worcestershire. Do you think the reaction to the recent extreme
weather has demonstrated the Blitz spirit at its best? If
you are among the million people affected by flooding this week, what
has the reaction been like in your area"
But my favourite story of "extraodinary human endeavour" was the Evesham postman who used his own car (not just anyone's car, mind you, his own car) because deliveries had been cancelled, to deliver Harry Potter.
It turns out (as separately reported in another article by the Telegraph but not mentioned in the tales of "extraordinary human endeavour" feature) that his own daughter had been eagerly waiting for the book in his same home village to which he delivered the books to the other children.
Imagine if he had got her book out of the depot and delivered to just
her and not the others in this village? Hero to Villain and social pariah
in his village (and probably P45 for an unauthorized delivery) in one
go. Apparently he only delivered to his own village. There is no mention
as to whether or not he left other villages waterlogged and Potterless.