We have a curious relationship with pride in Britain.
Maybe it’s guilt over our colonial past. Maybe it’s British understatement. Or maybe the notion of national pride has been so poisoned by the Daily Mail, UKIP and the far right, that we are scared of sounding boorish and nationalistic. We don’t know how to be proud without sounding arrogant and objectionable – even though it’s something other countries seem to manage with ease.
Why else does St Pancras station – a magnificent British building – try so hard to be French? There are no English pubs or shops at the stations on the other end of the Eurostar, in Paris Gare du Nord or Brussels Midi, and nor should there be – they are our points of entry to exciting foreign countries with different cultures and cuisines than ours. But St Pancras is half-French – it’s almost apologising to travellers for arriving in Britain, with its champagne bar, Des Vins Cafe, Crepeaffaire, Paul, and Pain Quotidien.
Why else does Britain have fewer local food and drink items protected by European Protected Designation of Origin status (PDO) in total than France has for cheese alone? Far fewer even than germany or Portugal? Why do ‘British’ delicatessens stock Italian and French cheeses but no English cheeses? Come to think of it, why are we calling them delicatessens?
Why, as I pointed out last year, can an American brewer rhapsodise about how Britain is the only nation on earth able to consistently brew beers of such quality and depth of character and flavour as real ales, at alcohol levels below 4% ABV, when you rarely hear moderate and reasonable British people expressing a similar opinion?
It’s a weird one. And it’s a condition that’s being tested again today by the launch of SIBA’s answer to last year’s American ‘I am a craft brewer‘ film. It’s simply called ‘Proud of British Beer’, and here it is:
SIBA chairman Keith Bott said, “Nobody could have made a more convincing, compelling case for British beer than the brewers captured on this film. Their pride in their beer, and the pubs that sell it, jump out from every frame and will be felt, and we hope shared, by all who view it.”
Personally, I love it. But then I would – I wrote the script. And while we’re on the theme, I’m proud to have been asked. I’m proud to have contributed. I’m proud to be a part of this film.
Alternatively: take the piss. Parody other people’s efforts to help save and promote British beer while you sit on your arse and do nothing. But don’t then complain when you’re favourite pub closes, or your favourite beer is no longer brewed.
Come on people. If we don’t start to show some pride in what we do then basically, we’re fucked. Let’s try being a little positive for a change.