Tuesday, 27 October 2009

A broadside on British social etiquette

There's nothing like a bit of Jacobson social polemic. This article by Howard Jacobson gets right to the marrow of the matter of British social conduct.

I was chatting to a Trinidadian the other day, recently moved to Barbados, who was lamenting the violence in Trinidad and Jamaica. He had recently been caught running a stop sign here in Barbados, and found his initial irritation at the pettiness of Barbadian crime prevention give way to an acknowledgement that Bajans sweat the small social stuff because they can and always have. He described a chat with a Jamaican police commissioner where he asked why so many motorbike riders rode without helmets, when the law stated that they must wear them. The commissioner replied that, with 1500 murders a year to deal with in Kingston alone, bike helmet wearing was a pretty low priority.

Jacobson's article highlights the mad contrast of a nanny state that made it success on catering to the whims of its society finding itself unable to cope with the whimsical society it fostered. "Whatever happened to common decency?" is cliched, even by international cliche standards, but it seems to be an increasingly important question to ask in British society. Look to your little former colony: Barbados. Where decency is still common.

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