Cultural experiences and funny musings by two twenty-somethings living abroad
Recently, Hmsies came across an article in the Telegraph, titled “Why France is better than Britain?”In fact, nowadays, it is really not that unusual to hear numerous criticisms about Britain and how it is lacking in so many ways compared to our European neighbours. But Hmsies just cannot agree with this. We asked ourselves, “Is Britain that bad after all?”
Here is our list of Top 5 reasons why Britain really ain’t that bad!
Efficiency – If there’s one thing the Germans are famous for, it’s their supposed efficiency in everything they do. In reality, the absolute opposite is true. Trains won’t run if there’s the wrong type of snow (sound familiar?), it takes days if not weeks for a bureaucrat somewhere to work out how much tax you pay or to send you a certificate confirming where you live, and there’s the tendency for people here to create work for the sake of creating work, making everything a lot more drawn out. In Britain on the other hand, people aren’t as technophobic as in Germany (where government branches are seriously considering reverting to using the typewriter) and as a result, a lot of things get organised and finalised very quickly, meaning we can spend more time on things that actually matter.
Driving on the left – When speaking with people on the continent, quite a few people ask why Britain still insists on driving on the left whilst virtually the rest of Europe drives on the right. In fairness, this is probably because of an imperial hangover we are still suffering from, but it appears there are actually some road safety benefits, as numerous international reports have shown that Britain and Ireland have the safest roads in Europe, if not the world. People are more likely to be right-eye dominant and because that is the direction from which danger on the road comes, people tend to react better when things happen, meaning fewer accidents. Moreover, people tend to mount bikes and motorbikes from the left, so they don’t have to mount from the road in a left-handed system. If Napoleon hadn’t got France and other European countries to start travelling on the right, everyone in Europe would still be travelling on the left and maybe there wouldn’t be quite as many road accidents.
Political stability – A lot of people in the UK complain that there hasn’t ever been a real choice in parties to vote for, because it is always Labour when it is not Conservative and it is always Conservative when it is not Labour. With that said, ever since the UK came into existence in 1707, Britain has never been rocked by revolution nor has any political party from the far left or right ever been in a position of serious power. The party which has probably rocked British politics the most is UKIP, but even the things they stand for are reasonable in comparison to some of the other parties in Europe that hold real power, like the Front National in France, Jobbik in Hungary and the True Finns in Finland. Moreover, the UK has never been a dictatorship and the only other country in Europe that might be able to say the same is Sweden. The point is that things in Britain have never been so bad that there has been a need for revolution or a dictator to establish control and stability, despite us having a monarch who could very easily take matters into her own hands.
Entertainment – The BBC can get quite a bashing from viewers, especially from those who are forced to pay a TV licence even if they don’t watch the BBC, but the programmes they provide, such as Top Gear, Sherlock and Doctor Who have been enormously successful worldwide, especially given the amount of funding they get. So successful to the extent that one time a Doctor Who special was being aired in the UK, viewing ratings across Europe plummeted because people flocked to cinemas and online streaming channels to watch it live at the same time as the audience in the UK. The same could definitely not be said of German TV programmes, who have a lot more money to play with and produce programmes of not even half the quality. A similar story can be said of music, as charts across Europe are usually full of American or British artists with a few coming from Sweden and occasionally from somewhere else.
Sport – We complain a lot about how badly the England football team play at major tournaments and, although it is our major sport, Britain punches well above its weight when it comes to other sports, especially ones which are represented in the olympics. A country of 60 million people coming 4th on the medals table in the 2008 Olympics and 3rd in the 2012 Olympics is not a mean feat, especially given how much other countries invest in their sporting successes.
So, friends – who is to say that the Brits are “fat, idle and incompetent”? Even in terms of economics, Britain has come out of the global financial crisis incredibly well and Britain is set to become Europe’s biggest economic power in the space of a little over 10 years, ahead of countries like France, Germany and Russia. This is a country of great progress and faces a lot of success in the future. Although we may not have the best climate or arguably the best food, Britain is not doing too badly for itself. Of course every country has its pros and cons but next time you hear about what’s wrong in Britain, maybe this article will inspire you to think what’s right!