Was Today British Values Day?

Regular Stoa readers will remember that in the unspeakable Liam Byrne’s comic pamphlet A More United Kingdom, someone made the rather good suggestion that we might introduce the much-anticipated British Values Day “by making more of an existing day e.g. Pancake Day”. Well, today (Tuesday) was Pancake day, and therefore potentially also British Values Day.

Among other things, today I ate some Stilton cheese (and a pancake!), and watched parts of a football match on telly (though I suppose I should keep quiet about the fact that I wanted the notionally British team to lose).

Britons! What did you do today (or, depending on when you read this, yesterday) that was distinctively British?

21 thoughts on “Was Today British Values Day?”

  1. I finally caught up with Terence Davies’ Of Time and the City and watched four British Transport Films.

    Entirely coincidentally, since I had no idea that it was British Values Day until about thirty seconds ago.

  2. I also ate Stilton, as well as several pancakes (which I also cooked). I don’t know if the butter/brown sugar/lemon juice combination is distinctively English or just what I grew up with; I recommend it either way. And I played some folk music (some of which was British, or rather English) and drank some beer (also English). Apart from that, I think all I did today was get less done than I’d planned, which is probably more universal than British.

  3. Mike: Was T&tC good? I liked the trailer, but then failed to see the film. I’m tempted to say that there is no more British activity than watching British Transport Films, so many congratulations.

    Phil: I didn’t drink any beer (which is unusual), but I did drink wine from New Zealand, which is sort-of British (he says, to annoy any New Zealanders who might be reading).

  4. There is no reason at all to keep quiet about wanting the forces of evil to lose in Milan last night. Or was it a positive desire for Mourinho’s team to win? Then the morality of that would depend on whether it was motivated by a desire he should do well (morally dubious) or that Chelsea should feel badly (good, but not as good as wanting Manchester United to lose.)

  5. I’m tempted to say that there is no more British activity than watching British Transport Films, so many congratulations.

    And one of them was presented by Blue Peter’s Peter Purves, thus pushing its Britishness through the roof.

    Of Time and the City was very good indeed, if you can get over Terence Davies being tooth-grindingly precious at times. You’re welcome to borrow my DVD – it has a logo in the top right throughout, and intermittent reminders that it’s “for screening purposes only”, but it’s otherwise quite watchable.

  6. That’s quite British. Were they interestingly British trespassers (hunt saboteurs, the Railway Children, roads protestors), or the kind of trespessers you might find anywhere in the world?

  7. I exchanged a couple of emails about the abandoned Second Test in Antigua. Other than that I can’t think of anything. I don’t think I even ate any cheddar.

  8. I spent a long time waiting for someone to call round and fix the boiler. That’s one of those things that feel British but probably reflects universal values.

  9. I spent a long time waiting for someone to call round and fix the boiler. That’s one of those things that feel British but probably reflects universal values.

    There’s a famous Soviet joke about a woman who goes to buy a washing machine and is told that it will be delivered in exactly three years’ time. She asks “Morning or afternoon?”, and the salesman says “Why does it matter?” To which she replies: “I’ve got a plumber coming in the morning.”

    Returning to British Transport Films, were there similar film outfits dedicated to making, say, French, German, Russian or Japanese Transport Films? I’m sure there must have been, but it does seem a peculiarly British obsession, and I’m certainly not aware of eighteen-disc 125-film retrospective box sets of foreign transport films lighting up the DVD sales charts.

  10. I spent part of my evening recommending vintage British radio comedies over a game of poker to American friends. (To be truly British, I suppose I should have been playing whist and talking about how rubbish everything is). And I think I (unintentionally) claimed that my cultural attachment to cricket gave me justice claims for polyethnic rights in America…

  11. There’s a famous Soviet joke about a woman who goes to buy a washing machine and is told that it will be delivered in exactly three years’ time.

    Well at least it was exactly three years. In Aragón, on the other hand…

  12. My attempts at patriotism fail again, though the only mental associations I have with Canada are maple syrup and mounties (which would make an interesting genre: Canadian-fetish pornography…)

  13. Mary found a shop near us in Brussels that sells Weetabix, and bought some. I guess that’s pretty British behaviour.
    I hope your remarks about football reveal that you wanted Inter to beat Man U, rather than that you wanted Roma, who were surprisingly dull, to beat Arsenal (who were pleasantly splendid)!

  14. This reader letter to a newspaper seems apt:

    “SIR – Being British is about driving a German car to an Irish pub where we drink copious amounts of Belgian or Eastern European beer, then on the way home stop to pick up an Indian curry, a Chinese takeaway or a Turkish kebab to consume as we sit on our Swedish furniture watching American shows on Japanese TVs.

    But, above all, being British is our suspicion of anything foreign.

    Robert Readman”

  15. I bowed down unquestioningly to the authority of a small class elite, based on nothing more than the sense of their inherited wealth, and a small portrait of the Queen.

    I also declined to riot or revolt on the basis that it wouldn’t be proper and anyway it was raining.

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