49 1 min 11 yrs

So, who agrees with John Cleese?

“John Cleese says that London is ‘no longer an English city’ – and claims that’s how the capital landed next year’s Olympics. The comedian also says he can’t return to live in Britain, due to the country’s tax laws, and is likely to move to a continental tax haven. Mr Cleese, 71, told Australian television that London no longer had a ‘parent culture’, and said that in some areas it was impossible to find an English person.”

Speaking as someone who has visiting London regularly for the last thirty years, I would say that Cleese has a point although it has been some time since it was an “English city.” Like so many large cities it is VERY mixed, although where once that mix enriched it, it now disfigures parts of it.

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49 thoughts on “FAWLTY LOGIC?

  1. Abso-blinking-lutely I do.
    Having driven my wife to various conferences and meetings around London in recent years, and contrasting it with the London I knew as a young schoolboy and merchant seaman, John Cleese is spot on.
    I find the same thing living here in Norfolk. It is like living in Britain forty/fifty years ago, and thoroughly enjoyable.
    London now represents the wonders of cultural diversity. Its streets are filthy, shops overflow onto the pavements, strange music bellows from loudspeakers and many of the people look like misplaced extras from “We three Kings – The Sequel.”

  2. Of course it is obvious to anyone over fifty, – and before anyone bleats on about pensioners living in the past, – when you get older the past isn’t quite so long ago as one might imagine, and not everyone suffers from Alzheimers. Plus we have all those snaps and movie news clips to jog the less agile of memories.

    I am all for travelling and broadening the mind, – but did we have to invite them all back to stay, – not for just a visit, but for ever and a day!… as the song goes!

  3. Ernesto,
    Do you know, in all my travels and sojournings abroad, the thing I always took for granted was that England/Great Britain/the UK remained the same. quirky, arrogant, bolshie, lazy, class obsessed, kind, and stable.
    WE can’t do that anymore. Britain is slowly having the life sucked out of it.
    Obsessed by triviality,
    Complacent with millions living on Benefits
    Unconcerned that others are working towards taking over and destroying their national home.
    Riddled with organisations using it as a base for their global activities, and always anxious to appease…..

  4. Mahonsy,
    Explain.
    Are you referring to Monty Python stuff or “older man success envy” stuff?
    Cleese and others represented an Englishness that appealed mainly to middle class folk… 😉

  5. Agit8ed – he was comparing Michael to Sarah.

    Anyway it is ironic that Cleese, who has lived all over the World, gets put out when peopel from all over the World go to live where he did.

    I mean he’s a British citizen, who lives in America complaining about globalization while he’s working in Australia.

  6. Anyway it is ironic that Cleese, who has lived all over the World, gets put out when peopel from all over the World go to live where he did.

    He wasn’t living on anyone’s benefits and he did leave after a time.

    He was a net contributor to any country that he lived in.

  7. Mahonsy,
    Right, Sarah to Michael; understood.
    Regarding John Cleese’s remarks, it isn’t ironic. Most English people – or BRits if you prefer, were taught to believe that whilst the world is full of wonder and diversity, the home country would carry on unchanged.
    I think its hard for nice folk like yourself and Phantom to understand what a thousand years of history does to you or means to you. Your forbears came from Ireland; another conservative nation, proud of its history and traditions. But America is a melting pot of peoples and cultures. You learn how to rub along, and find points of unity around the American dream and loyalty to the flag.
    It’s not the same.
    MY generation loves John Wayne, James Stewart, Gary Cooper, Bogart, Cary Grant etc etc.
    We laughed at Chaplin, Laurel and Hardy, George Burns,Bob Hope, Red Skelton and so many, many more. But they all belong to the “old America…”
    It’s a changing world Mahons, old chap.
    And I don’t much care for it! 🙂

  8. ““John Cleese says that London is ‘no longer an English city’ ”

    He can thank his lucky stars, he is an ‘actor’ because he will never make a detective?

  9. Agit8ed,

    You forgot one, – and governed by halfwits!

    Among octogenarians the most often complaint heard is one of a feeling of betrayal, by government through ineptitude, and by Buck house with its love of all things Empirical. Small wonder that her most loyal subjects, apart from the usual Court hangers on, are from the former colonies. Didn’t the Queen once say that her proudest title was that of Head of the Commonwealth.

    Unfortunately the ones who made the ultimate sacrifice in two WW’s are no longer with us, and by doing what was considered ‘right’, back then, have left us open to the vagaries of a political system manned by the greedy, corrupt, inept and generally insane with delusions of competence.

  10. Agit8ed

    I think its hard for nice folk like yourself and Phantom to understand what a thousand years of history does to you or means to you.

    You might be surprised.

    Some of us treasure your old ways more than you think, even than we only see them on a visit. I admire and respect them, and have done so ever since I first set foot in London in the mid 1970s.

    If I lived there, I’d never have thrown them away in a million years.

  11. Agit8ed:

    Grant, Chaplin, Laurel and Hope – four other Brits who left to seek their fortune elsewhere. Cleese is in good company.

    Phantom:

    Cleese’s comments were not directed at the lack of contribution of people, rather their failure to appear sufficiently British. I think he’s actually smarter and saner than that, but it doesn’t read well for him.

  12. But nonetheless, does the man have a point?

    I think that the point by many that something has been lost, via a large scale immigration that was never needed in a populated country, and by a benefits system that over time became a way of life for many.

    These things could so easily have been avoided, then.

  13. “Ernest Young, on September 2nd, 2011 at 7:29 pm Said:
    Hari, – at least he isn’t colour blind!”

    Is that still legal in England?

  14. London is still one of the World’s great cities.

    Cleese move out over twenty years ago, didn’t he? His gripe was economic.

  15. Phantom,

    Of course he has a point. We now see the result of what happens when a political, and largely theoretical, doctrine is followed slavishly, rather than following a policy of good and beneficial governance. Our political leaders have been more interested in their own fortunes and reputations, rather than that of the nation.
    Such dedicated ‘followers of fashion’, invariable become outdated, and become more ridiculous by the year. I offer Blair and Brown as exampples of the genre.

  16. ‘London is a third world, immigrant-filled dump.’ – and as such is the ‘front office’ for that noted establishment, – the NorthSea Refugee Camp a.k.a Mumbai-on-Sea, or alternatively as ‘Home from Home!’ – I believe it was voted ‘Top Camp’ for the past ten years, and has a three star rating in the Amnesty guide to ‘places you must visit’. with a contact address for ‘Liberty’ – the organisation that will defend your rights ‘to the last Englishman standing’. I believe their motto is – “You know we care”…

  17. “I think that the point by many that something has been lost, via a large scale immigration that was never needed in a populated country, and by a benefits system that over time became a way of life for many.

    These things could so easily have been avoided, then.”

    Exactly so Phantom. You have hit the nail on the head.
    We are comfortable in our quaintness, our inconsistencies, our inadequacies, our snobbishness and our vulgarity.
    Despite everything our history is littered with events that make us proud and remind us of times gone by. We have been pretty much at the centre of world events for the last four hundred years, and despite our current obsession with the banal and the tawdry, we long for leaders who will bring out the best of Britishness and restore a sense of pride and purpose to our nation.
    Instead we watch as all that made us British is slowly but surely thrown away, and we are made to feel “strangers in a strange land”.

  18. Harri?
    Nice to hear from you again.
    How are things?
    I was beginning to think you’d been sacked from the laboratory.
    Quite missed you and your question marks???? 😉

  19. Agit8ed, on September 2nd, 2011 at 8:57 pm Said:
    Harri?
    Nice to hear from you again.
    How are things?
    I was beginning to think you’d been sacked from the laboratory.
    Quite missed you and your question marks????

    Likewise… Now, and in good old PC, or Monty Python fashion .. just don’t mention Ze Geramns, or Ze Somalians, Nigerians, Africans, or any of the other ‘Londoners’ I mentioned them once but I think I got away with it.

    London has not become a ‘Multi-Culture’ utopia.. it has become an International Socialist laughing stock .. and a former shadow of it’s former self?

    “I was beginning to think you’d been sacked from the laboratory.
    Quite missed you and your question marks????

    Sacked .. Moi ???????????????????????????????????

  20. Nah Ernest,
    Silvio’s just throwing a wobbly because the Italian public are tired of his shenanigans. The girls no longer find him irresistable, his hair is falling out and his willy has the “wilts.”
    Mama Mia”!

  21. Harri,
    You and John Cleese make an interesting combination..
    You might consider a double act – “Fawlty Towers does London…” 😉

  22. ““I was beginning to think you’d been sacked from the laboratory.
    Quite missed you and your question marks???? ”

    Sacked .. Moi ???????????????????????????????????

    I run the Lab, believe it, or not.

    Anyway, I have recently had the misfortune to spend some ‘quality’ time with my family of ‘Londoners’ [ The Isle of Dogs to be exact ] And Wembley, Kentish Town, and Balam .. so, to keep up with the times, I wish you all a good Eid, and Inshalla, I wish you all well.

    Free Tibet, by the way?

    ? In good old Harri fashion.

    England, by the way.. is FUBAR, Beyond all recognition.

    You are welcome to it.

  23. Cleese used to be very funny, but now he is becoming a bit of a Colonel Blimp: “Everything was better in my day, old boy, Johnny Foreigner knew his place”.

    He has chosen to become what is quaintly called a “tax-exile” which means he no longer contributes to what Colonel Blimp would call the common weal. And that means that he should shut *** **** up, and good riddance. Let him whine about the Channel Isles, or the Isle of Man, or wherever he has decided to bolt to.

  24. Agit8ed, on September 2nd, 2011 at 9:22 pm Said:
    Harri,
    You and John Cleese make an interesting combination..
    You might consider a double act – “Fawlty Towers does London…”

    What .. All of it?

    I am a busy man you know.

    This Parrot is dead by the way ( just in case you have not noticed ) and, we can all really ‘Look on the bright side of life’

  25. I have a question?

    How come anyone ( even the British ) thinks that England is shi* .. once they have moved to the States. Even LA, can’t be that nice ! The women might be, but surely the rest can’t be?

    Are they tryimg to tell us something? [In a polite way ]

    Bastards .. rich bastards granted.. but Bastards anyway.

  26. Cleese is a smart guy. He may not have been born in the U.S.A. but he realises it’s the best damn country in the world……………Despite the Magic negro president!

  27. Harri,

    ‘Tis the ‘travel broadens the mind thingy’. The first time anyone travels abroad they see how others ‘do it’, – live that is! – which gives them something with which to compare their own domicile.

    I well remember returning to Dover after our first family break abroad, and the effect the quantity of litter that was strewn alongside the road to London had on us. Everywhere you looked there was paper, bottles and cans, casually discarded from cars and lorries that had passed that way. The thing was, – it didn’t get any better when we arrived home, – the streets were just plain grubby.

    As for your remark re America, sure there are some tatty bits, but the real, and very big difference is in the general attitude. Even in places such as LA, the general feeling just seems so much more positive than back in Jolly Old England.

    And no, you don’t have to be rich to be a bastard, or to have an opinion! and yes! UK is FUBAR.

  28. p.s.

    Harri,

    And Eddie takes the opportunity to prove that even a positive attitude to life, when overdone, can so quickly become arrogant and boastful, which is the other side of the coin. Positive the Yanks may be, – I didn’t say they were classy…:-)

  29. Jeez.

    What a bunch of whining old men.

    Just listen to yourselves. “It was so much better in my day” … You know what, it has always “been better in my day”.

    If you went back to when it was supposedly “better” you would have found another bunch of super-anuated reactionry old farts complaining about how things have changed yearning for the goold old days when things were so much “better” Read your literatrure. Start with Trollope.

    I posted a quote from the 18th century complaining that London was not as safe as it was in their grandfather’s time. One thing that is consistent; it is always about two generations back that the so called ‘golden period’ existed. Not too long that it is out of living memory, but long enough so that only a few can lay claim to it.

    History moves on; either you move with it, or you get left behind to become embittered reactionary misanthropes propped up in the corner of some bar moaning into their beer about the youth of today and how much better it was in the past.

    Your call.

  30. “Jeez.
    What a bunch of whining old men.”
    I don’t know about Ernest, but I’ve never claimed to be anything else.. 🙂

    “You would have found another bunch of super-anuated reactionry old farts complaining about how things have changed..”
    Which just goes to show that we old farts know what we’re moaning about.. 😉
    The fact is Geoff, it was better forty fifty years ago.
    Less affluent certainly.
    But in general life was less stressful, people were more polite, society was more cohesive, and it was safe to play outside, climb trees etc, -and we did. More people had jobs, education was about learning, and tv was both entertaining and educative.

    Oh yes, football teams were overwhelmingly made up of British players, not foreign imports…

  31. History moves on; either you move with it, or you get left behind to become embittered reactionary misanthropes propped up in the corner of some bar moaning into their beer about the youth of today and how much better it was in the past.

    The changes spoken of are not any kind of organic evolution in society. They’ve been imposed, and not by ” the youth ” by changes in welfare laws, and by the opening of the gates of Heathrow and Gatwick to reactionary hordes.

    You miss the point entirely by saying that the English / British have no right to comment on demographic and other changes in their own society, and by essentially saying that those comments are never valid.

  32. Geoff,

    I don’t really care what you call me – or what you think, presumptuous bigotry such as yours is never pleasant to read, and is all too often the product of a limited mind.

    Quite apart from the fact that most of the comments above, say the opposite – that England has long been a shitty dump. No-one even mentions how ‘good’ things were in the good old days.

    However, just keep paying those taxes, and keep my pension flowing, – I read that it is soon to be increased, and about time too! What with the price of petrol, I need a little extra to keep the Jag runnng!

    ‘When the old rooster crows, the young cocks listen, – and learn.’ – that’s an old saying from the ‘good old days.’ Meanwhile do keep believing that ‘progress’, and in particular, political progress, is always for the better, – didn’t you learn anything from reading Trollope?…

  33. I can’t help but feel that Cleese is much more concerned with the tax situation rather than ‘Englishness’. For example. Sean Connery. Proud Scotsman. But never is he gonna live there!

  34. Sean Connery. Proud Scotsman. But never is he gonna live there!

    Yes, Billy Connolly is no different.

  35. Agitated
    Guess those Rose-tinted specs feel pretty good now. 40 years ago society was more divided, social mobility far less, racism was more overt, homosexuality was illegal, abortion was unreformed. Cathy come Home was a good example of sociAl issues that were prevalent.
    The school leaving age was 14.
    If you think Z Cars and Dixon of Dock Green, or The Black and White Minstrel show were informative and entertaining then maybe TV was better. When I watch tv programmes from my youth I can’t help but think how crap most of them were.

    What we see here is observer bias and moral panic. Every society believes it faces an existential threat. The nature ofnthe threat changes from generation to generation but the perception remains constant. Those are the reactionary forces that oppose change because change upsets the existing order. What people object to is that the locus of power in society shifts empowering different people. Reactionary forces object to that.

    Ernest young
    You clearly do care else .you would not have responded. I do pay my taxes and I am happy to pay for your pension, however reactionary you may be. I am sure that you were once a productive member of society and it is society’s responsibility to look after those who are no longer productive and can not look after themselves anymore.

  36. Guess those Rose-tinted specs feel pretty good now. 40 years ago society was more divided, social mobility far less, racism was more overt, homosexuality was illegal, abortion was unreformed. Cathy come Home was a good example of social issues that were prevalent. The school leaving age was 14.

    And the Tories were usually in power. Daily Mail Paradise!

  37. Geoff,

    If you actually believe the nonsense you wrote in reply to Agit8ed, then we have to assume that you are delusional. E.g. school leaving age has long been 15 (1944) and then 16 (1972). Cathy come Home was not representative of social issues, – it was more fiction than fact, and just another product of socialist propaganda, and far from improving matters, has as likely, been partly instrumental in encouraging the creation of the ‘welfare’ society and the many problems that has created.

    As for a society ‘more divided’ back then! What utter nonsense, we now have a more fragmented and divided society than ever before, – perhaps you are unaware of all those ghetto communities that exist in almost every town or city, with practically every third world country represented, – all very cohesive – in your dreams!

    I have no objection to ‘a change in locus of power’, provided it is the result of democratic will and not of corrupt politics. The decision to allow excessive immigration could not, in any way, be described as democratic, more like political malfeasence.

    I thank for your concern re my continuing welfare, it is perhaps just as well that I have no need of your patronising faux, and so very socialist, sympathy, as I own and run my own business, and have done so for many years.

    That I have contributed all of my working life to the ponzi government pension scheme, certainly relieves me of any feelings of gratitude to them for such benevolence.

    Re my reply, – I did make the point that, apart from Cleese, none of the other comments in this thread made any mention of ‘things being better back then’, – far from from it, most made mention that GB, UK or whatever you care to call it, has been crap for quite a long while.

  38. Ernest Young
    You are correct – it was 15 not 14. Those three extra terms must be where all that education took place.

    Of course society was far more divided. What you mean is that it was far more white back then.. As is evidenced by so many of your reactionary posts, you see the world through the filter of race and colour. There is a word that.

    Cathy Come Home was fiction, but like all good fiction it was illustrative of its time, which is why Shelter was formed as a result of the airing of the programme. And yes it did help the furtherance of the welfare society and let’s salute that, so that people living in poverty have a chance to escape from it. Maybe you would prefer that they remained where they were? You are quite happy to take the state’s money for yourself, but not give it to others. There is a word for that too.

    So sympathy is a socialist trait is it? That must make embittered angry confused reactionaries opposing sympathy. How sad that an octogenarian should spend the end of his life consumed by such bile and anger eating away.

  39. Geoff,
    My oh my!
    You have got the bit between your teeth on this one.
    In some ways you are right,(rose tinted glasses etc.) but in others I would say that the passing of time is no guarantee of better times. History is littered with examples where “the future” did not mean “closer to Conservative or Socialist Utopia”.

    We can only ever speak with some authority of what we have lived through. I believe that there was far more opportunity for social advancement fifty years ago. An intelligent kid could get into a Grammar School, a practical kid to a Technical School, and wallies like me into a Secondary Modern. There were far more jobs around, you could (as I did) go to Night School and get some qualifications, and there were plenty of factory jobs available..
    The point is though, that Ernest and I were brought up in a different kind of England than the one you were born into, and we are living our mature years in another kind of country that is “less England”.
    It is interesting that your comments have come across as quite scathing and angry, whereas Ernest has been polite and measured in his observations. Yet you see fit to verbally lay into him!

    Your silly jibes about The Black and White Minstrel Show, Z Cars etc., show a certain unbecoming contempt for “old farts” of our generation.
    I was actually thinking of The Brains Trust, The Ascent of Man, Panorama, TWTWTW, The World this Weekend,Tonight -as well as the ones you mentioned, which in their time and context were entertainment.
    Then there was What’s My Line? Royal Variety Show, TV Playhouse, Candid Camera – and so on.

    You also snipe at Ernest about society, saying that what he meant was that “It was far more White then..”
    Well, it was! It had been for the preceding almost thousand years. Multiculturalism is a very new invention imposed on our white British society in the last fifty years. Shock! Horror!! Even our politicians and roadsweepers were white. So were our villains.It was a homogenous society, and I for one preferred it that way. It made the sacrifices of our parents and grandparents’ lives in two world wars to ensure the security of Great Britain relevant and worthy of honour.

    As for the Welfare State, when it was introduced people appreciated it and respected it. They didn’t make a career out of living on the State, and they didn’t keep demanding their rights either.
    Now we have close to four million dependent on benefits, with hundreds of thousands of families where nobody holds a job. Is that progress?
    Is it progress where we spend increasing amounts of money keeping tabs on people who might be plotting to blow something or someone up “for religious reasons”, or kill their daughters for bringing shame on their fathers?
    Or filling our streets with surveillance cameras, or hearing about yet another schoolboy stabbing in London?
    So have another think Geoff, accept that whilst things change, it’s not always for the better… 😉

  40. Agit8ed,
    England was not nearly as ethnically homegenous as you claim at the time in question. It already had a huge population of “Johnny continentals”, around 200,000 Poles alone, as well as other groups from the Commonwealth, Jews – and Irish!

    Probably the fact that most of these were white meant they didnt count, and maybe Geoff’s point on that score stands.

    However, I’ve just returned from two weeks in a delightful country village in Kent, where I was the most foreign thing around – horse riding for the kids, cider in the afternoon and cream tea served in the churchyard on Sundays, and all that – and I must say it was something definitely worth preserving.

  41. oops, forgot to add that there was also a thriving culture in knife crime.

    Heath wasn’t the first Ted to appear n the English scene, remember.

  42. Noel,
    Utter guff!
    There is no comparison between the proportion of non Brits living here then, and the deluge of the flags of all nations we have now!
    Think its coincidence we now have all these murders going on, Gangsta Rap, “Ho’s and Bitches”, honour killings, arranged marriages, people living in garden sheds in London, parts of the country earmarked for Sharia government, poppies being burnt and placardss telling us to go to hell??

    Those Jews, Irish, Poles and others were not only white, they wanted to be accepted into British society, not set up their own fiefdoms!
    It is a fact that British people felt threatened by them and gave them all varying degrees of bad treatment and hostility. Now they just feel overwhelmed by the various groups and communities arriving almost daily.
    Not to mention that most of the jobs created are going to foreign nationals…

    Preserve picturesque villages so that you can be “the most foreign thing around”?

    How quaint. How Noel.

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