Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Börk börk börk

Where did it all go wrong for the inhabitants of the British Isles? It's tempting, of course, to blame the Romans. No Romans, no withdrawal, no Anglo-Saxons (to use an ahistorical term), no English, no Normans, no Christianity, no Reformation, no Counter-Reformation, no monarchy, no capitalism, no massacres in Ireland, no Troubles, no Partition, no Bonnie Langford. Though who's to say pan-Celticism wouldn't have been equally bloody and hierarchical? But at least we'd be sacrificing horses and painting ourselves blue and being an altar boy would have been a lot more fun and would have featured a lot less sexual abuse.

But to pick a more recent date, I'm going to plump for 1066. But not the 1066 you're thinking of. Not Harold's defeat of 14th October 1066. I'm no Anglo-Saxon cheerleader (not when my name's as Irish as Tarquin Twistleton-Twistleton-Smythe is English. In fact, British and Irish history took a terrible turn for the worse three weeks before, on 25th September 1066, in the ultimate Pyrrhic victory. It was Harold's fault yet again. He marched north to defeat the Viking, Harald Hardrada in a stunning feat of arms.

The bloody fool. OK, a Hardrada victory would have meant violently thinning the ranks of the English, Scots, Welsh and Irish aristocracy, but as the Monty Python peasants demonstrate, the identity of the oppressors means very little in daily life. The native and English languages may have died out - though the Normans didn't impose English on everyone: there weren't enough of them. Eating raw herring may have become popular - ugh. But in the long run, and setting aside the occasional human sacrifice and rollmop orgy, the British Viking Territories would have ended up as earthly paradises. We'd all be tall, slim, handsome, stylish bicycle riders. None of energies would have gone into invading other countries or resisting being invaded by the English. There'd be a Noma on every street corner, a sauna in every basement and a yacht each. our public services would be properly funded, Philip Green wouldn't have dared to show his face, cities would be pedestrian friendly, the streets would be free from vomit and government would be friendly, responsive and practical. No parading round the world waving nuclear missiles in people's faces, no scuttling off to do whatever Washington wanted - just calm, relaxed, thoughtful, slightly dull neutral democracy. We'd live in stylish, cool flats furnished with lovely minimalist furniture. We wouldn't have Hollyoaks and Police Camera Action: we'd have The Killing and Borgen and The Moomins on at prime-time. No Jamie Oliver: we'd have the Swedish Chef.

Look what we could have won

I've a good mind to dig up Harold and give him a well-deserved kicking. I'm starting a petition to ask Norway to annexe the UK and Ireland (we'll be nice - give them an option on Norn Iron). Who's with me?

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