Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Just a small post before a long Wacken diary, and a question to you all -

65 years ago, Germany was a vicious dictatorship, run by genocidal lunatics with whom the average person was complicit.

63 years ago, it had been bombed far more than Britain, and had almost no buildings or infrastructure.

Now, it is a prosperous, peaceful country whose youth, at least, are committed to equality and anti-racism.

The people are very polite and helpful, there is plenty of art and culture, the streets are clean (and have public water fountains, I don't like to think of what would happen if they were installed in Britain). Of course, as an apparently white person (though half my family are Jewish, and I do resemble a Nazi caricature - I'm just a nose with arms and legs attached), I'd probably find the same things under the Nazis - but there are crucial differences.

I do look different to the average person, and I'm not safe walking around urban British streets. In Hamburg, I received no verbal abuse whatsoever - in fact, Hamburg Pride was going on quietly without the vast police support it would need in Britain - and the legions of hungover young metalheads were treated as well as everyone else (unlike in Derby station where we caught our connection, where we were not allowed to use the toilet, incidentally), because Germany is a country that does not treat its youth like scum by default.

For their part, young people in Germany are proud of what their country is becoming, and, at Wacken, cheered the loudest when a German band gave an anti-racist speech; when a Swedish band sung about the bravery of the Poles in 1940, and when Iron Maiden showed the applicable footage before "Aces High"; sported on average an anti-racist badge or T-shirt each - AND also cheered the loudest when non-German bands addressed the crowd in German, or indeed mentioned the country at all.

And, of course, as in every European country, everyone spoke to us in immaculate English as soon as they discovered where we were from - or, indeed, heard our appalling German. Gareth couldn't help but laugh when an earnest young man asked him "I would like to travel to the US. I am worried that my English is not good enough - is it all right?"

My question is, why is Britain, comparatively, constructed entirely of FAIL? Compared to Germany, how much good have we done in the past 65 years?

Considering how some Little Englanders here talk, perhaps we need a fascist dictatorship to convince them that no, it's not actually a very good idea.

Oh yes - the service industry (specifically, the travel industry) in each country:

Germany: "Would you like me to speak English? Here's what you wanted, here's everything else you might possibly want - oh, here are maps to everywhere you might possibly need to go. Would you like me to print you a different one off? You're going to Wacken, so here's a black hire car. I hope you have a very good time there. Don't worry about that, this or this. My shift ends now, but I'll be here for twenty minutes in case you need to ask me anything else."

England: "I'm so wilfully stupid, it's amazing that no-one I'm here to "help" has stoved my head in. Would you like a non-answer to your question, a weird non sequitur, or an inappropriate personal remark? DURR DURRRR DURRRR."

1 comment:

Daphne said...

"Our finest hour was fighting the Nazis and since then it's been downhill all the way." Discuss, writing on one side of the paper only.