22 5 mins 14 yrs

Over the years in which I have lived, in England for a total of some forty-odd years, in South Africa for some seventeen years, with the remaining slice early on in the Brtitsh Merchant Navy, I have witnessed many changes both in the way we live, our attitudes and dealings with those not lucky enough to be born British, but mostly in the way we, as a Nation, seem to have been deftly woven into the mind-state which says "Everything which Britain has stood for in the past, in terms of our culture and National Identity, in both Empire and Colonial action, was bad, and everything built, proposed and engendered by those whom we had opposed in the past was good!"

To attempt to list the areas which we have been led, sometimes in the full light of media publicity, sometimes in closed doors and locked corridors and shaded by secrecy, would be to take many screens to print, so I will write of two items only, where we, as the Brtish, have folded our arms and allowed others to dictate how things should be done in our OWN COUNTRY.

Some twenty-odd years ago, The Insitute of Electrical Engineers accepted that the United Kingdom would change the colours of cables from the traditional Red for line voltage and Black for neutral in domestic wiring because all the other  Europeans were doing the same. No matter that we, the British, invented the whole process; no matter that our whole country was standardised on these colours, we had to change because the Europeans wanted "Harmonisation" in all matters. So over the following twenty years, all new installations were to be cabled with Blue as Neutral. But now the bloody Europeans wanted more changes, becaue the "majority" called for it, so in 1999 more changes were made to the cabling colours. So we as a nation, whose fixed cabling had lead the world because we were doing it first, meekly agreed to alter things once again because "We had no Realistic Option!" In fact we had a ‘Realistic Option’, which was to turn around and say "bollocks to the lot of you", but the nation which once stood alone off the Continent against the Nazi hordes has forgotten how to fight!

 If you woke early on a morning, with your radio tuned to the BBC, your ears were gently reassured with the sounds of the ‘Shipping Forecast’. No matter that you had never seen the sea, or that in fact you possibly had never been on a ship, the mellifluent tones intoning "Forties; Cromarty; Forth; Tyne; Dogger. Southwest 6 to gale 8, backing south or south-east 7 to severe gale 9. Rain. Moderate or poor," seemed to state that all was well with the World, and that God was still probably an Englishman. Admiral Beaufort’s scale of winds are used to tell sailors what weather to expect, from a Force Two, being a gentle breeze, to a Force Eleven, where the whole sea is white with spume and flying foam, where the waves crash with almost inhuman malevolence upon ships both huge and tiny,   But some time back, various bloody foreigners started mumbling in their ‘fuzzy-wuzzy’ way about how we were talking about areas near their coastlines, and therefore we should alter our dialogue and namings to suit their ideas, not ours.

So on February 2nd 2002, ‘Viking and Forties’ became ‘North and South Utsire’, the area named ‘Finisterre’ was phased out, and became ‘Fitzroy‘ who although he was a British Admiral, and he did actually invent weather forecasting, his name does not ring with sounds of a vastness which was implied by ‘Finisterre’. From the Latin ‘Finis’ and ‘terrae’, the ‘ends of the land’, you knew exactly where the announcer was talking about; but ‘Fitzroy’? He committed suicide!

Despite the ‘Shipping Forecast’ being from the British Broadcasting Corporation, in English for primarily British sailors and navigators, we folded, renamed that magic space known as ‘Finisterrre’ because 

" it was felt appropriate that the British area name should change!"


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22 thoughts on “we change because we are spineless

  1. "those not lucky enough to be born British"

    LOL! I can think of thousands who’d consider themselves less than lucky, but why spoil a peaceful Sunday in Little England?

  2. Ah, but we still have "Trafalgar" and "English Channel" on the shipping forecast.
    Until that is, the Spanish and then the French get sniffy and our govt caves in.

  3. "those not lucky enough to be born British"

    LOL! I can think of thousands who’d consider themselves less than lucky, but why spoil a peaceful Sunday in Little England?

    Are you one of them, Dawkins? What would they and you rather be? If I remember correctly, you admitted no feelings of loyalty or belonging to any nation, including the one which nurtured you, educated you and protects you under its rule of law. Is this so?

  4. Allan,

    "Are you one of them, Dawkins? What would they and you rather be?"


    The 20 happiest nations in the World are:

    1. Denmark
    2. Switzerland
    3. Austria
    4. Iceland
    5. The Bahamas
    6. Finland
    7. Sweden
    8. Bhutan
    9. Brunei
    10. Canada
    11. Ireland
    12. Luxembourg
    13. Costa Rica
    14. Malta
    15. The Netherlands
    16. Antigua and Barbuda
    17. Malaysia
    18. New Zealand
    19. Norway
    20. The Seychelles

    Other notable results include:

    23. USA
    35. Germany
    41. UK

    I’m not a great mathematician or statistician but I should hazard a wild guess that nationals of countries 1 to 40 may just consider themselves to be happier than your average Briton.

  5. Allan,

    I neglected to answer your final question:

    "If I remember correctly, you admitted no feelings of loyalty or belonging to any nation, including the one which nurtured you, educated you and protects you under its rule of law. Is this so?"

    Spot on. No loyalty whatsoever. The British nation did not nurture me; my mother did.

    Nor did it educate me out of the goodness of its heart. My parents’ taxes paid for my schooling. I paid for my college education. (My father was/is strong on work ethic.)

    If it protects me under law I haven’t seem much of it. My home was burgled 8 months ago. The cops answered my 999 call three hours later. They allow joyriders and boyracers to take over the streets in my area every weekend, but they’re always about whenever I exceed the speed limit by 5mph.

    Less than one quarter of my income is earned in the UK, but more than one third goes into the UK economy.

    Loyalty? Any good reason why I should feel loyalty to this nation above any other?

  6. Dawkins, surely you speak in some hyperbole. Somewhere in there you must feel more loyality to #41 than to Rwanda or dare I say it, the USA!

    Mike, for what it’s worth, neutral wires here are still black.

  7. Mike

    I totally fail to see how replacing Finisterre (Portugese) with Fitzroy (British) can be construed as a defeat for dear old Blighty at the hands of wicked foreigners. I speak as a long-time fan of the shipping forecast.

    Fitzroy was captain of The Beagle on the famous Darwin voyage in the 1830s.

  8. Charles,

    I feel more affinity with England than with most other countries but that’s not the same thing as loyalty.

  9. Changing relatively minor things such as geographic names are, in the scheme of things of little consequence, however, they are, even if not exactly a part of our culture, they are traditional and tradition evokes memories, certainly for the older members among us.

    The question remains – why change? for no other reason than ‘they’ just wish to leave no stone unturned in their efforts to change Britain so completely, that it becomes unrecognisable as an seperate entity…

    Likewise for the cable colours, and don’t forget metrication!

  10. Ernest

    Please explain how replacing Finisterre with Fitzroy is a defeat for Britain.

    Now, if they wanted to change the North Sea back to its old name of the German Ocean, I could see your point…

  11. Peter,

    Did I say it was a defeat for Britain? Is that how you see it?

    It matters not what it has been called for generations, it is the perceived need to change even the minutae of the traditional, and for no logical or reasonable reason that rankles.

    As with new owners of a house the need to change and redecorate, to obliterate all signs of the previous owner is undestandable, – but this is supposed to be a country, governed by a British parliament, and might be expected to wish to retain such traditional items.

    I think we may well have a government of cuckoos, you know that bird that lays it’s eggs in other birds nests, and when the eggs hatch they then proceed to make the original owners as uncomfortable as possible, to the point of dispossesing them.

    Isn’t this all just part of the plan? – what other reason could there be?…:-)

  12. Peter,

    Just how old are you? I have never heard the North Sea called the German Ocean.

    Given that Germany has the smallest coastline of any country with very little frontage on the sea, it is highly unlikely it was ever universally known as the ‘German Sea’ – let alone ‘Ocean’.

    What is it with you? do you really hate the traditional that much? I know you are an avid socialist, – and I do make some allowance for that, perhaps you are party to the overall NuLabour plan to redesign the UK into their idea of a soulless socialist nirvana…

  13. Ernest

    First I am not "an avid socialist".

    I saw "the German Ocean" in an old atlas a few years ago. It may be that it was never widely known by that name, but here is a Wikipedia entry on it.

  14. Peter,

    Now that is one humourous wiki entry. Believe that and you will believe anything, – which of course, we know you do!…:-)

  15. Ernest,

    That ain’t nothing. Atlantis is a mythical place, like heaven, yet we still call a vast ocean after it :0)

  16. Ernest
    I think the entry is written in Ulster Scots. But here’s one in English:

    ""German Sea" or "Germanic Sea"[5] (from the Latin Mare Germanicum) was commonly used in English and other languages along with "North Sea", until the early eighteenth century. By the late nineteenth century, both "German-" and "Germanic Sea" were rare, scholarly usages."

    See here

  17. Peter,

    Firstly, apologies if I seem to be a bit ‘short’ this morning. We have just had a very disturbed night with the southerly gales blowing straight on to our new double glazing. So strong was the wind that at one stage we thought the windows would give out. Fortunately, all was well, – just a bit weary.

    Thanks for your attempt to persuade me of the correctness of the German Ocean, but what may sit well with the Kaiser, does not mean much to me. We live in Great Britain, and have never called the North Sea anything other than that – why the need to change?

    I am sure the Pacific and the Atlantic have many other names, in countries that border them, – fine, but we use the names we are familiar with, and long may we do so…As far as global trade is concerned English is the standard language, others are certainly envious of that, but do we have to cow-tow to them?

  18. Dawkins,

    I can equate with your 6.31 – Sunday comment. It is not so much that we have lost our sense of loyalty, it is more the case of that which enjoyed our loyalty has seen fit to disabuse us of that feeling by changing, almost beyond recognition, including the instances you mentioned…many folk see it as a betrayal…

  19. Ernest

    From the point of view of GB, it would be called the East Sea. The name North Sea is obviously from a German or Dutch perspective.

  20. Peter,

    Ah! but from our more global perspective it is rightly called the North Sea, not the Nord, or Norden zee. Particularly in regard to our longstanding, but now sadly diminished dominance of the world’s oceans, it is rightly called ‘The North Sea’…a memento to past glories!..:-)

    Both the countries you mention are are virtually land-locked, and any pretensious claims by them are rightly dismissed… what an uppity bunch they are…

  21. Ernest,

    "what an uppity bunch they are…"

    Aye aye. Can we still send in the gunboats teach them manners or has Brown placed a veto on this? :0)

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