One of the ways in which England differs from Spain is the extent to which the English are prepared to be told what to think by the media. Every time I visit England, which is usually for a week or so every summer, I have fun identifying the new groups that the media (in general, including the BBC and the Guardian. It must be general or it wouldn’t work) have given people permission to hate.
The hatred of anyone connected with banks is not part of this, by the way. That is a much bigger hate campaign successfully promoted by politicians around the free world to hide the fact that the recession is largely their fault. (Discuss).
No, I’m talking about minority pursuits, people who have interests which can’t seriously be thought to threaten anyone, but who have some reason have drawn the spiteful venom of the press. You can tell these things are not natural, not based on anything real, because they are usually given a convenient handle, everyone complains about exactly the same things, and they are unique to the UK, the same groups of people in other countries apparently never managing to annoy anyone.
In Spain, you either ride a bike or you don’t. Or you sometimes ride a bike, or you have one but don’t use it anymore, or you intend to buy one as soon as your son is old enough to ride. That sort of thing. In England it appears society is divided into Cyclists on the one hand, and the people who call them lycra louts on the other. (Yes, I know some riders can be inconsiderate to pedestrians but car drivers can be a menace on the roads and they don’t get vilified collectively. It’s an invention of the media. Really it is.)
Hands up anyone who has ever had a problem with a Google Street View car. Yes, as I thought. But mention the subject to an English person and they will immediately splutter about all the trouble they have caused for some indeterminate other people who no one seems to know.
Drivers, or cyclists, who use GPS navigators in their vehicles. Could someone explain to me why possession of a perfectly ordinary, and extremely useful piece of equipment, which has greatly simplified travelling and made it a lot safer at the same time, should come to be a diagnostic tool for finding people to look down your nose at and metaphorically spit upon? A tough one, isn’t it? But in the land of my birth it was so, at least for a time.
Drinkers of bottled water suffered the same fate a few years ago. Now it is users of electronic cigarettes. I have seen references to ‘vapers’, clearly a code word for ‘someone to whom I am vastly superior’, being used in supposedly respectable newspapers to describe people who use this harmless, odourless, non-polluting device in order to adapt their customs to the convenience of those around them. Why are we being told to hate them? Perhaps the Guardian can tell us.
I am an Englishman, and shall always be rather proud of the chance that got me born there, but a lot of our journalists are petty, ignorant and provincial, and are lucky that in a free country they rarely have to answer for their words.