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