Penis not shown. But then, it doesn’t really need to be. Image: Lma/Bauer Griffin.
Being a cynic of some repute, I had a feeling that this brave new world of post-Olympic British optimism wouldn’t last. The feelings of togetherness and joy we experienced as a nation – borne from the realisation that we were capable of doing something on the global stage without making complete tits of ourselves – were only ever a veneer, an unexpected heat wave in our perpetual winter of self-loathing and narcissism. We were still there. Just waiting. Just breathing.
Little did we know that last Friday night, while we were still exploring the well-lit alleys and sunny streets of ‘optimistic’, events were afoot that would break that heatwave and douse us once again in the familiar chill of the endless bloody rain.
Royalty. Nudity. Naked Girls. Camera Phones. Drinking. It’s like a perfect storm of British scandal.
Yeah, it’s nice and everything. But we preferred it when someone said she was fat, if we’re being honest. Image: REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson.
And we’re straight back in, as though Mo Farah and Jessica Ennis never existed. As I write, the Radio 5 Live morning phone-in is groaning beneath the weight of callers desperate to tell me and the rest of the country that while they’ve looked at the pictures on the internet, they believe that the newspapers were right to abide by the Clarence House directive not to publish them. That Prince Harry is a young man who is entitled to blow off steam – he works hard, he does a lot for charity, he’s a bit of a cheeky chappie etc, etc. All the usual stuff we trot out when we decide we like someone and therefore they deserve to be protected from our roving, unpredictable censure.
The truth, People Of The World, is that we Brits aren’t interested in being reasonable or fair. We don’t want to be understanding and generous, or to drop the preconceptions and stereotypes we have about people which result in the same behaviour being condemned when enacted by some and applauded elsewhere. Our double standards and hubris keep us safe. It was fun to experience something new for a while, but it felt a bit like going on a sunny summer holiday – while we’re there we throw ourselves enthusiastically into the experience, getting burned, trying paella and buying wicker donkeys – but we’re always relieved when the plane lands at Heathrow, it’s raining and we can’t find our car keys.
We like it here. We understand the rules. We’ll probably stay.