Nostalgia for a non-existent utopia

Aaah, the good old daysIt’s always amusing to see authority figures weighing in on the state of the country. It’s an easy hit to blame X and Y and say that the solution is Z.

Today’s man with an agenda is Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali who blames a decline in Christian values for destroying Britishness. Here’s someone else with opinions formed by exposure to media stories and PR, rather than an acquaintance with facts.

Nevertheless, his article makes interesting reading, but I’m going to digress from the woes of the Anglican church to complain about the tendency of commentators (beginning with your average Daily Mail and Sun columnists) who declare that this country is going to the dogs.

Firstly, this country IS going to the dogs. But it’s always been that way. A sense of decline is as much part of the British psyche as is a tendency to sigh about our dull weather.

Move forward twenty, fifty and a hundred years and there’ll be a sizeable number of middle-agers who will say “things were much better in the olden days”.

If you’re going to claim the past was so great, then one may as well dismiss the racism, homophobia and domestic violence which were under-reported and casually dismissed half a century ago. At the same time, a chocolate bar could be claimed to help you play harder, a glass of stout was healthy, and the best way to relax after a minor trauma was to light up a cigar.

Cultural changes and legislation ensure that we don’t make claims like that any more, but advertising still takes its turn as an easy target for today’s ills.

A crude rule of thumb when people are looking for scapegoats is: if you have to think hard to identify the cause of your problem, then you are going to be wrong. The cause is: You.


3 Responses to “Nostalgia for a non-existent utopia”

  1. 1 Charles Frith June 9, 2008 at 3:57 pm

    Its not easy to comment on wordpress from China but in this case the point I’d like to raise is that lots of people leave the UK and in my case its not because the UK is going to the dogs (lets call that change and people particularly the British loath change) it’s because its never changed fast enough for my liking.

    Although architecture should always be respected.

    At least the food got sorted out in the late eighties.

  2. 2 oldvic June 9, 2008 at 4:09 pm

    Good point about the pace of change, although I’d say that within that there is a natural inclination to distrust those who claim to be agents of change. I think the cure is to get out more, and steer away from those English-breakfast places when abroad.

  3. 3 Charles Frith June 12, 2008 at 3:10 pm

    Between you me and the internet. I just stay clear of the Brits when abroad 😉

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Self-important bit

I’m Victor Houghton, a, er... something or other in one of the UK’s largest advertising agencies. My job title has a comma in it, which is embarrassing. I’m the chief finder-things-outer with a splash of trends who is lucky to work with all the major functions of the agency, even though I am most closely associated with strategic planning. Everything in this blog has most probably been stolen from other, infinitely more talented people, although the opinions are most definitely my own and not those of the agency.



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