Saturday, November 19, 2011

In Recognition of Our Subscribers from England

         Those of you who know me well know that I attended school in England as a young teen and that my mother was British.  Even though she lived most of her life in the US, she chose never to relinquish her status as a British subject.  England will always be a place of which I am fond. It's been a surprise for me to see that of the nations who have been most enthusiastic about regularly checking the material of this blog, that England has been one.
          Many changes have occurred in England in the past few years.   The England I remember was incredibly well organized.  It was orderly and incredibly neat.   The last couple of times I have visited, there were many surprizing changes.  Privatization of many services, poor maintenance of general infrastructure, and unreasonable numbers from an influx of refugees from many lands has left England struggling to pay for its National Health Service and for other services, that British people began to take for granted.  (I do not oppose foreigners entering, but what I am saying is that England is a small island and that their national absorptive ability was overrated.. They accepted unreasonable numbers of refugees to a point at which they are unable to assimilate, employ and feed all of them.)  My very last visit to England was difficult.  My aunt had died and I was there to settle her estate and pay some expenses.  I found the system to be very inflexible and difficult, even WITH a solicitor, the English equivalent to an general attorney sans litigation.
        Since then, my friends there have left the city and suburban areas , and live rurally attempting to grow whatever they can to eat.  Many people in England are deeply worried about the potential economic collapse with food shortages.  Sadly, the nation which organized and did so well in Churchill's day is having trouble organizing and meeting needs in a much less homogenous society than it had then.
         If you are in England now, I share your concern, and hope that something in this blog resonates with you, and helps you in your quest to organize yourself in order to take care of your families. The English face some special challenges as many homes have limited storage for preparedness, so some things are challenging.  Know that I am thinking of you when I write some of these posts.  Best wishes.


Sian Thomas said...

Wow, I have to say that I don't recognise your bleak portrait of my country. First, England has never been 'incredibly well organized' - we've bumbled along for centuries and are still doing so.

Second, and this is my main objection to your post, England (and Britain as a whole) has had a long and noble history of welcoming and integrating other nations. I have yet to come across a race-riot or a starving refugee.

You say your British friends are fleeing urban and suburban areas and now 'live rurally attempting to grow whatever they can eat.' You make it sound post-apocalyptic. There are lots of nice farm shops and pubs in rural Britain, there's really no need to toil to earth. You may also be surprised to learn that we have lots of strong urban communities where different races live quite happily alongside one another.

In the States you are rightly proud to live in a melting pot. I too am pleased as punch to have German, Russian, French, Irish, Welsh and Scottish blood.

Please consider more carefully what you write about my country in the future. It may well be that on your last visit, you projected your grief over your aunt's death onto us.

JaneofVirginia said...

Thank you for your commentary. I do post and respond to opposing views. I enjoyed your post and thought it very similar to something my mother might post, if she were here today. Yes, perhaps I did not give sufficient credit in an international forum to how England has, for hundreds of years, been a place where many cultures were successfully integrated. However it is a blog post, centered and focused on one aspect of a subject, not a textbook, and so I am afraid it cannot be as complete as you might wish.
I am also very glad that you have found an insular region of your nation, no doubt rural, in which these pressures and fears of economic collapse can be dismissed. This is not the case with many of our friends. They are indeed worried. They worry about crime, the development of organized crime, inflation, food prices, the availability of jobs, overcrowding, immigration issues, national health service failures, and potential infrastructure deteriorations. Since the original post was written in November, 2011, many of them have continued to view what they see as a downward spiral. I would not characterize their commentaries as "post-apocalyptic", but I would characterize them as "deeply concerned".
I do not believe that I allowed the loss of my aunt to color my impression of England on that particular visit. First of all, my aunt's illness and deterioration occurred over a long period of time. Her passing came as one of relief, as she was no longer suffering. Our month long visit there afterward to sell her London home, dispose of her assets and possessions, and establish a memorial were positive experiences for our family. The deterioration I saw outside London compared to prior trips was striking. The pile of blood in the underground station following a miscarriage remained there for three days. The diaper which sat on the main avenue, remained there for the entire month we were there. A neighbor related to us that National Health had failed to allocate funds for the cleaning of the hospitals in the region, and she was therefore going to clean her family members and his roommates hospital room. This is not the England I recall when I attended school there. My perception was and is, that England was a highly organized and structured place, far more organized that the US. My observations are also mirrored by a close friend from England who now resides in Belgium.
I always carefully consider everything I write here, in articles, and elsewhere about England, Russia, Canada, and the US, all places which I hold dear. However, I think this is one area in which we must agree to disagree. Perhaps as you have remained in England, you are less sensitive to gradual changes there over time.