thanks to bishop alan for making me aware of this.

it got me thinking… what are the top ten things that our country would benefit from being rid of (whatever country we might be in)?

please feel free to post them in the comments. i shall endeavour to put a list together also… obviously the daily mail will turn up in mine. :-)

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About jonbirch

animator, illustrator, character designer, graphic designer. music producer/recording musician. co-owner of PROOST. proost.co.uk
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119 Responses to 570

  1. Carole says:

    Simon Cowell, corrupt planning departments, the Department for Children, Schools and Families, PowerPoint presentations, binge-drinking (anyone who has ever had to negotiate pavement pizzas in a city centre on a Monday morning will agree), celebrity chefs, obscenely overpaid celebrity footballers, obscenely rich celebrity WAGS, celebrity bitch mags…and, er…celebrities.

  2. Carole says:

    …did I mention celebrities?

  3. Tim Beadle says:

    Will my nomination be “poor spelling, grammar and punctuation”? (It should be “things _that_ have wrecked Britain”) :D

    Nah, I think I’ll nominate big business and its disproportionate influence over the “democratic” process.

  4. kirsty says:

    Re Carole’s Will my nomination be “poor spelling, grammar and punctuation”?

    The cartoon should also have “its” in the 2nd last line. ;-)

  5. kirsty says:

    erm… then again, I’d personally add to the list folk who can’t reference the right comment to reply to.

    *Sorry Carole – who didn’t say that and Tim – who actually did.

  6. janetp says:

    I think you did, Carole, yes. Once or twice.

    Can I add people who drive inconsiderately around cyclists (like the pain-in-the-a**e who stopped his 4×4 in the cycle lane/box at the traffic lights this morning and then tooted at me when I touched his wing mirror trying to get through – no damage of any description, I hasten to add). And cyclists who ride like idiots (jumping red lights and the like) and give the rest of us a bad name.

  7. Forrest says:

    A little expansion of what Kirsty says:
    ‘it’s’ is a contraction of ‘it is’ or ‘it has’
    ‘its’ is the possessive form – yes, ladies and gentlemen, a posessive form without an apostrophe!
    It’s become a very common error.

    Actualy, the top ten list of things which have wrecked Britian, or my own US should include at its top the citizens who’ve allowed that to happen.

    later, gotta get out in the rain to go run paperwork to an apartment office

  8. In no particular order…
    The media in general (the scaremongering of the ’news’ peddlers; the way Christians are portrayed in TV series; magazines that promote the theory that you are the sum of your looks etc)….
    People who judge by outward appearance, whether it’s behaviour, dress, skin-colour, accent or job…..Fly Tippers….
    People who abuse children (and animals)…….An education system that is totally geared towards passing exams and thinks that trade is a dirty word (we need more mechanics and plumbers!!!!)…….Grey Squirrels, American Crayfish and Harlequin Ladybirds (I’m sure there are many more introductions that are bumping off our native species but you get the drift?)

  9. Carole says:

    Kirsty, for your info, I am a new teacher on the block and the aforementioned Department of Children, Schools and Families (snappy title, if ever there was one) frowns upon me pointing out errors except on rare occasions. Children today don’t fail, they merely have ‘deferred successes’. There is no such thing as a wrong answer merely a step on the way to the right answer (PC Bollocks – and no, he is not a policeman). To cut a very long story short, I refrain from playing the pedant in blog postings. ’twas not me, your Honour.

    Just thought of an addition to my growing list…political correctness gone mad!

  10. Carole says:

    Oh, and chain emails, especially the Christian type ones which claim to hold some special blessing…if only you forward it to 7 (magic number) friends.

    And of course spam.

  11. Forrest says:

    Hey Carole in #9, just remember this happy thought: these kids are going to grow up to fill your prescriptions; fix your automobile; and manage your bank account. Cheers, have a nice day.

  12. marcus says:

    1. Daily Mail
    2.Margaret Thatcher
    3. Teachers who show preference to pupils of well to do parents
    4. Well to do parents who think their children should be treated preferentially
    5. British reserve
    6. our Empire hangover (God save our Queen etc)
    7. Millennium Dome and other gross wastes of money
    8. Morris Dancing!?
    9. Streets full of litter
    10. People whining about what has ruined our country but not actually doing anything about it…me!

  13. Carole says:

    Forrest (11), that is precisely what worries me… :(

  14. Carole says:

    Marcus – I have had this awful premonition of you petrol bombing some poor innocent Morris Dancing troupe at their May Day celebrations

  15. jonbirch says:


    Here are my 10 (first draft)

    1. Thatcherism (the root of many a modern day British problem).
    2. The cult of celebrity and all the publications and tv shows that promote it.
    3. The media, who not content with reporting the news now seem to want to create it by whipping up such fear that they dictate the way forward.
    4. Racists. BNP and lessers of their ilk… they are an evil torment and an embarrassing blot on our landscape.
    5. Banks… and anyone whose soul work is to try and make money out of money
    6. The Turner Prize… and many other things which promote the idea that art can exist without craft.
    7. The Daily Mail, for always spouting snobbish middle class values and taking the moral high ground, when really it is just a lowlife, seedy, trouble making, rabble rousing rag that only exists to point and wag its’ finger.
    8. The words to Land of Hope and Glory… in a way i like the patriotism, but when you look at what you’re singing!!!
    9. Politicians. They are mostly untrustworthy, they invariably look for a quick fix and are completely unable to engage in the roots of an issue. Plus, they never answer a question properly… they only ever seem to answer questions they ask themselves that nobody wanted the answer to anyway.
    10. Anyone who makes a bundle and skips the UK to avoid paying tax. Mick Jagger being a case in point, who then gets knighted for his efforts… gets knighted!!!? he can get knotted!!!

  16. jonbirch says:

    haha marcus… having been to a wedding recently with morris dancers, i have to say i thoroughly enjoyed them. :-)

    hey carole! you’re back! hope you’re good! great list… ithink you need more celebs in it though! :-)

  17. thanks jon….I forgot about the turner prize…..though as I’m going to get kids making dragons out of landfill for a workshop, there might be something worthy of entering next year

  18. jonbirch says:

    actually botticelliwoman… that sounds cool! :-)

  19. Caroline Too says:

    Oh dear

    I fear the need to confess:

    I suspect that this will render everything I say in the future worthless, from an unthinking, shallow fool


    …please don’t tell my trendy, emergent pals…


    oh how can I lift my head in sophisticated company…


    I actually quite like Shine Jesus shine

    I do, I’m sorry, but I just do

    I think I’ll go and get my coat now…

  20. jonbirch says:

    haha! you and a million others caroline! …and why not? what harm has it really done. probably none. but you’d best get a move on… there’s a thousand or more people rushing to get their coats too! :-)

  21. Carole says:

    Caroline Too, I hereby absolve you of your sin +

    I have been known to sing along with it myself and not felt exactly grossed out. In fact last week,I even did the ‘Our God is a Great Big God’ thang. But it was among children at a primary school assembly so that was OK. If I wanted to impress anyone I’d have to try an awful lot harder.

  22. serena says:

    Jon – in (15) you say “5. Banks… and anyone whose soul work is to try and make money out of money”. Now, it may just be a slip, but I love the idea that banks think making money is “soul work” …

  23. Jonathan says:

    Hmmm, ok, things that have wrecked Britain.

    1) Thatcherism – managed to kill of the vast majority of Britain’s industrial life and work anyway.
    2) The premier league – the paying of people millions of pounds a year for playing footie for 90 mins on a saturday is obscene, and has contributed to a cutlure that has skewed priorities.
    3) Supermarkets that sell alcoholic beverages as a loss leader.
    4) The Daily Mail & The Sun combined – These two reactionary, scare-mongering, celebrity-obbsessed rags shape the opinions of a scarily large section of the British public.
    5) Tony Blair – the invasion of Iraq marked a return to a foreign policy we had seen the back of at the end of empire.
    6)Out-of-town shopping parks – like every hypocrite, i love the bargains, and the convenient parking…but i know they have ripped the heart out of our towns, leaving room for a collection of coffee shops, charity shops and estate agents.
    7) The average Radio 1 DJ – it’s sad that ignorance is held in such high esteem – and if they are not actually ignorant, they seem only to progress by pretending to be so!(Sarah Cox exempting of course..)
    8) Eastenders – this being held up as a mirror of a Britain few of us recognise, and it’s pretty miserable.
    9) The Cult of Celebrity – children want to be famous, not not sure for what. When society rewards so greatly people with no discernable skills or talents, and when “celebrity” becomes a job with no reference to why the individual might be considered one, it leads to a deep malaise and lack of ambition. Why earn anything when you can become rich and famous for picking your nose on Big Brother?
    10) House price inflation & the purchase of second houses – wrecks conversations at meals, bank balances, people’s future prosperity and small communities.

  24. Jonathan says:

    ha ha 8) ought to be 8 ) with no space…

    so 11) software that is TOO intuitive!

  25. jonbirch says:

    that’s a great list jonathan… 5,6,7,10 i wish i’d said. that’s the problem with just 10… there’s so many! :-)

  26. Kayte says:

    Ok, I have a confession to make too. I actually DON’T like Shine Jesus Shine, and when I was at uni, my friends knew this. One day, while I was showing some prospective students around, we wandered into the common room and one of my pals struck up on the piano with a cheeky grin and explained to the bewildered prospective students that it was my FAVOURITE song.
    I don’t remember the diatribe that followed, but it’s fair bet that the words ‘trite’and ‘bollocks’ were in it and I may possibly have wished that Mr Kendrick had never put pen to paper…at best.
    My prospective students shuffled in an embarressed fashion.

    “Grame Kendrick’s my dad.”

    She didn’t go to our uni.

    I still don’t like the song particularly.

    But still, scourge to society is a bit much!

  27. Carole says:

    Now I’ve finished venting my spleen on my personal gripes about British society, I’ve actually tracked down the Letts top 50. What bemuses me is the relevance of Graham Kendrick. It’s not as though you can’t walk around a supermarket without hearing his songs. I know a lot of evangelicals but I can’t think of any with a Graham Kendrick ring tone on their phone (but that is no guarantee!).

    In the grand scheme, not that many Britons actually do church and still less do church where Kendrick’s music is the standard fare. I would have thought there would be far more relevant people in a list, compiled with your average Daily Mail reader in mind.

  28. Ben says:

    GK Chesterton wrote in a response to what was wrong with the world:

    Dear sirs:

    I am

    Yours etc…..

    Although the Daily Mail is far worse….

    Carole has spotted a gap in the market: “I can’t think of any with a Graham Kendrick ring tone on their phone” – I would kill for a Shine Jesus Shine ring tune. I think the term to describe it would be ‘retro’!

  29. Ben says:

    39… Graham Kendrick

    47… Rupert Murdoch

    How did the mighty GK beat Murdoch?!

  30. not read the list but could it have been a stab at proving he has more of a grip on ‘happening’ christian practice than your average mail reader?. I never heard it…what am I missing???????

  31. andy amoss says:

    1. A (fictional) clear cut national identity that we believe ends sharply at our nation’s borders and which allows us to feel justified in running state systems which mistreat migrants and assylum seekers, unwittingly making them understood to be scourges of society.

    2. The whole celebrity obsession thing again. It seems to be serving as good as a death nell to civilised society in lots of ways.

    I feel that to add 8 other things would be to start whinging, and i think whinging is one of the things that would be in that list, therefore i’ll stop with my first choice 2.

  32. Carole says:

    Sucked into reading that dross on the Daily Mail site, I found myself clicking on links (evil site!). Firstly we had female film stars in there forties being ‘outed’ for going down the cosmetic surgery and botox route to preserve their youthful looks. But what made me howl was the article asking what on earth Dave Clark of eponymous 60s band, the Dave Clark Five had done to his ‘rapidly decaying looks':

    Spotted out and about in London, the man behind the Sixties group the Dave Clark Five looked a little more like a man enjoying his own 60s.

    Er, that might have something to do with the fact that he IS a bloke of 65. Talk about scraping the bottom of the barrel! Growing old these days is clearly classed as a sin. I wish they’d make their minds up – elixir of youth or grow old gracefully? There is no middle way. The obsession with appearance must go to the top of the list…well, maybe just behind Thatcherism.

  33. andy amoss says:

    Carole #27 – I think what he’s getting at is the way GK’s music has impacted upon ‘our fine nation’s’ ‘national religion’ is what’s driving his entry in the list. ie. we used to stand in great church finery, awed by the wealth in the architecture and sing proper hymns about slaying Moors and stuff, but Graham Kendrick turned all that in to stuff about how nice Jesus is.

  34. Schmikey says:

    top of my list of things that ruin britain would lists that point blame for ruining Britain.

  35. andy amoss says:

    Two posts again. Dammit! Ch crap, now it’s 3! I’ve got to get better at this.

  36. soniamain says:

    kayte your story really made me laugh, I can’t stand the song shine jesus shine and would def add it to the list, can’t stand daily mail or express either and would also add them, along with politicians who think SATS are the only way to know if an 11yr old child is achieving.

  37. rebecca says:

    Very quickly:

    1 Weapons of mass destruction.
    2 False rumours concerning the existence of weapons of mass destruction.
    3 The special relationship with the USA, given that it seems to have no implications except the requirement for the UK to follow the USA’s foreign policies, which are hardly exemplary.
    4 The first past the post system in elections, which effectively denies all smaller parties any voice in Parliament.
    5 Company directors who misuse their power, and escape accountability (note: not all of them do).
    6 Not treating the environment with the respect it deserves (at worst, treating it as dustbin, or someone else’s problem).
    7 A transport policy based on the assumption that everyone has a car and will use it in preference to any other mode of transport.
    8 Indiscriminate classification of whole groups of people as criminals, terrorists etc.
    9 Treating people in general as if they are bad and need to be crushed. (Some churches do this).
    10 Smoking. Even if somebody only smokes in private, they’re still harming themselves. And if they smoke in public, everyone else who doesn’t want to be harmed has no option but to stay away from them.

  38. jonbirch says:

    haha! hey rebecca, i was with you all the way down to number 10… then when i read that i got really stressed and went outside for a smoke! :-)

  39. jonbirch says:

    kayte… a truly excellent story! :-)

    sonia… i want to know the rest of your list!

  40. Mimou says:

    haha I remember singing (And dancing) in King’s Kids along to “Shine Jesus Shine” =D some, hmm, 16-17 years ago!

    I’m not sure what’s wrecked this country, maybe first of all dividing in the history the society into classes.. and supporting private schools instead of making the whole school system good quality, and equal in quality. Ie. supporting unequality in the running of the society.

    I’m not British so I don’t think I get to say more! lol. Except, Carole, I disagree on the celebrity chef front.. I quite like a few of them. One of them got my ex-boyfriend cooking, which meant I never had to cook. =)

    Otherwise the celebrity culture is crazy, I agree.

  41. soniamain says:

    ok jon
    5. husbands who neglect their wives when they are sick!!
    6. children who send harsh texts to their parents friends!!
    7. grumpy wives!
    organisations who get you to work extra hrs and don’t pay you
    8. repetitive singing
    9.teachers who are crap at their job and should not be teaching
    10.slugs in my bathroom

    random mix but that is just how I feel today!! :)

  42. Mike_maple says:

    Brilliant cartoon Jon, and a big Amen to that!

  43. jonbirch says:

    sonia… hahaha! :-)

    thanks mike! :-)

    mimou… you can say what you like mate! :-)

  44. soniamain says:

    glad you liked it jon- lol

  45. Speed bumps (apparently in Edinburgh we have some of the UK’s worst roads, and garages make a packet in all the money they make with the regular bust suspension in cars)
    Caravans (if you live in a country that has lots of single carriageways and mountainous roads, you’ll understand the frustration of being stuck behind a slow moving caravan going 20 miles under the speed limit for like…an hour)
    Political Correctness…seriously. Can you say anything these days with out offending someone?
    The fact that anyone can get a university degree and you can now get a ‘degree’ in the strangest of things – a lot of which would be better left vocational and taught as you go rather than learning a whole heap of theory which isn’t much use iin the real world. Oh, and because everyone has a degree you can’t get a job at the end of it and so really 4 years of mounting debt really just resulted in bad habits, a certificate and some letters after your name which you’ll never really use (unless you want to sound pompous).

    Ok, rant over…(for now)

  46. Man flu.

    Come on, man up dudes!! it’s just a cold!!

    PS I like Shine jesus Shine.

    There are worse songs.

  47. Ben says:

    no! man flu is an illness that is genetically engineered only to affect men!

    Has to be true my vicar told me!

  48. Wombles, you know kids used to leave litter lying out for them on wimbledon common for real. Wombles destroyed the environment. ha ha!

    And those stupid self service checkout machines in Tesco. Along with automated telephone banking (press 1 for…press 2…and then it tells you there is some ‘technical difficulty and to call back later an try again’) They are the most irritating contraptions ever and I would much rather have customer service from a PERSON not a MACHINE.

  49. Dude, your vicar is lying to you, or has been seriously misinformed or he’s kidding himself.

    Seriously. it’s just a cold same as what kids and women get.

  50. Laura says:


    That’s it…that’s my entire list.
    Brocolli has been the ruin of everything for all time everywhere

    The end.

  51. smudge says:


    thanks Graham for all the songs [well, nearly all…wish I could get hold of one of your albums from ’76]


  52. smudge says:

    oh, sorry, it should have been 10 :)

    2.journalist who don’t know how to be happy and clap :)

    3.criticism of Graham Kendrick

    4. barking dogs

    5. teenage rebellion

    oh sorry – am watching Silent Witness now :)

  53. theseoldshades says:

    brunettekoala: I swear those self service machines hate me! They always get very cross and tell me that I have ‘unexpected items in bagging area’ or ‘item removed from bagging area’. I’m sure this is because I use my own bags and try and bag as I scan and then when things don’t touch the bottom of the bag when I begin to stack they get annoyed!I’m just trying to do my bit for the planet! Anyway…

    1. The Daily Mail and associated politics.
    2. People who make lewd comments when you walk down the street and make it unsafe to walk on your own at night.
    3. Magazines which comment one week that a celebrity is too fat, the next too thin and so drive a culture where women (and men) are constantly ashamed and fearful of their bodies.
    4. Moths.

    I’m sure there are more things I would chuck, but I can’t think of them. The moth flying around my light is scaring me too much!

  54. Carole says:

    A big yes to so many of these lists! Especially, for local reasons, that evil lying pig of a scandal rag, the Sun, which I do not consider fit even to wrap our rabbit’s poo in. And those awful supermarket scanners…

    Sorry, Mimou, the chefs have to go on the list…’cept I like that Valentine Warner…something wholesome about him and the way he goes and gets the food in season fresh from the field…he’s not nearly famous enough to be vapourised in this exercise.

    Theseoldshades – I’m no fan of moths but they have been in this country since time immemorial…they can’t be blamed for sending the country to the dogs. ;)

  55. John Ferguson says:

    We are a shining light, a city on a hill that can’t be hidden, a shining light!
    We are the salt of the earth, here to purify and savour, salt of the earth!

    Go do something beautiful!
    In the name of Jesus, do something beautiful!
    Go do something Jesus would, do something beautiful!

    Yes it’s a cheesy song, but it’s my favourite Kendrick.

    I wouldn’t say I’m a fan of Kendrick in the way that I’m a fan of Editors, but I do appreciate his music and would never have labelled him happy-clappy. The album with Do Something Beautiful on it has no other happy clappy songs, they’re all very boring and I never listen to them. However, his good stuff that’s in Songs of Fellowship etc, I can usually recognise on hearing it because the melody is more sophisticated than most other songs.

    My list:
    1. Socialism – because via redistributionism it leads to totalitarianism, no matter how well-intentioned.
    2. Gordon Brown
    3. The Sun and The Mirror
    4. Charles Lyell
    5. People who don’t know the difference between right and left wing (http://www.politicalcompass.org/)
    6. Tony Hayers.
    7. Whoever commissioned Heartbeat and Where the Heart is.
    8. The guy who wrote the sleeve notes to Gary Numan’s Reconnected: Live and More ‘Best of’ album

    I’m sure there’s more that I’ll think of, like whoever thought DRM was a good idea, or crazy software licensing schemes, or something else when I get back to work tomorrow. I won’t include Bill Gates or anyone like that, though Steve Ballmer is close to the list.

  56. henry says:

    well, a lot’s been said i agree with. here’s ones that are close to my heart:

    * tesco and any other unethical supermarket
    * cars

  57. Becky says:

    Here’s a US List

    1. President Bush and anyone associated with his administration

    2. Everyone currently elected to Congress who is beholden to lobbyists instead of the voters.

    3. The whole clan of Kennedy worshippers who kind of forgot that this clan has a rather sordid history of abuse against women.

    4. Celebrities who fight for human rights in places like Darfur but yet hire hookers at home (anyone else see the irony here?)

    5. Any celebrity who pimps out their children to promote their career. (This includes selling the kids’ baby pictures, having kids to cover up the fact you’re gay, adopting kids from third world countries and then having them raised by nannies).

    6. Posh and David Beckam – please take them back. They are so annoying and he hasn’t really jump started soccer in the States anyway.

    7. Paris Hilton and every other celebutante who got famous by eating bugs on a reality show, making a sex tape or doing something else that’s degrading and self-serving.

    8. Simon Cowell and Mark Burnett – together they are responsible for too much crappy reality TV.

    9. Televangelists – all of them.

    10. Anyone who doesn’t vote in this upcoming election – people died to give women and minorities the vote. Even if the choices suck (and they always do), just do it.

  58. Linus says:

    Carole @21 ah, but did you do the actions?

    BK @49 How do you know? you’ve never had it. you don’t understand our pain.

    As a musician, or at least someone who hangs around with them*, i hate Graham Kendrick songs (i’m not saying they’re unmusical – its a personal preference thing. On a musical level is what i mean, i guess). As a person who wants words to accurately express an attitude of worship/encourage my brothers and sisters, i think you could do a lot worse. The fact that his songs are very definitely not self obsessed or babyish is i think the reason why they’ve endured.

    *i play drums

  59. sarah says:

    Unbelief in God, fear…

  60. To Linus – Hey how do you know I’ve not had it eh? I could have been a man once? ;)

    I agree with you on the GK. I don’t like his music for the most part, but they are worshipful.

    Can I add another more serious note? Abortion lobbyists…a good blogging friend pointed out that the money they spend prolife/prochoice campaigns could be better spent supporting men/women facing unplanned pregnancies…

  61. Carole says:

    Linus, of course not, for it is such stubbornness and stiff upper lippedness which made Britain Great…I don’t know if I would have felt more of a prat doing them or one of the few not doing them! I shall do it next time in a bid to blend in…but I won’t mean them!

  62. Robb says:

    Stop this Vile Filth!!

    Hang on, am I writing the daily mail??!!??

    Sorry Ben, we had a preacher at our church who was 19 (over a decade ago now – he is my age) who had shine jesus shine as his ring tone back then – when you had to type it in yourself!!!!!!!!!!!

    “we used to stand in great church finery, awed by the wealth in the architecture and sing proper hymns about slaying Moors and stuff, but Graham Kendrick turned all that in to stuff about how nice Jesus is.”

    What a $%£^!! Haw dare he!! B”$&!£$D!!

    “top of my list of things that ruin britain would lists that point blame for ruining Britain.”

    How Ironic!!

    OK, my list – sorry if it is a bit weird…

    1) People who claim atheism “isn’t a religious belief”.
    2) People who say “Jesus doesn’t like people like you”.
    3) People who claim “they aren’t real christians” about some other part of the church.
    4) The daily mail – stop this vile filth!!
    5) Shine Jesus Shine
    6) Dance Music
    7) Motorbike riders who drive like idiots and give the rest of us a bad name when they kill themselves in a stupid and pointless manner.
    8) BMW
    9) People who make stupid comments about my clothes because – “you can’t be part of the church”.
    10) People who believe that class matters.

    How’s that?

  63. jonbirch says:

    cathartic, isn’t it!? :-)

    this is a very enjoyable thread! :-)

  64. jonbirch says:

    hey becky… thanks for looking after the beckhams for us. i trust you are looking after them well. :-)

  65. Becky says:

    I don’t want the Beckhams anymore than you probably want Madonna. I could strangle Simon Cowell for starting the Spice Girls – I saw them perform once at the MTV Music Awards “live” – I would say they sounded like cats in a dryer except that’s not being nice to cats who find themselves as part of the laundry.

  66. Becky says:

    Oops just saw the news – now that Madonna is divorcing, I’ll bet we’ll get Madonna. In the case of celebrity multiple divorces, my heart goes out to the children. They didn’t ask to be born into this myopic mess. And I have sympathy to those celebrity couples to “ask for privacy” and then stay out of the media spotlight – those who use the media to air their dirty laundry (and the media who go along with the game) should all be put on an island so they can entertain each other.

  67. especially when said celebrity couples have given said offspring ridiculous names

  68. Forrest says:

    Top ten things which have wrecked . . . ?

    Breaking the Top Ten Commandments?

  69. Chris F says:

    Only one person mentioned east enders – I would say that all soaps are corrosive and unrealistic. And I hate the fact that their so-called plots are held as almost as real life news in summaries and articles about what is “happening” in the soaps.

    I scream in despair at the first bar of the archers theme tune and reach for the off button. How can anyone be interested in this drivel?


    utterly banal tv like deal, no deal.

    There is no hope for a civilisation that regards such stuff as entertainment

  70. Chris F says:

    Oh yes, and of course the dreadful daily mail

  71. Robb says:

    OK, I’m on one now.

    The thing I hate about the daily mail… what I really hate… is that it claims to be *my* voice. The voice of the *ordinary christian in the pew*.

    Put the real meaning back into christmas

    Why is this headline in that rag? Why are they making statements I agree with as though it is my opinion only to then write some crap about “jonny foreigner”??

    Who gave them permission for that?

    Stop this pollitical correctness gone mad. We don’t want winterval.

    Too bloody right. Why do I then find that a sensible thing that is roundly condemned by all ethnic and religious groups in the multicultural area that I live is post fixed with a long billious diatribe about “jonny foreigner”.


    I feel like I may be about to invoke Godwins Law.

  72. Linus says:

    Becky we have to export our banal celebrities – its the only thing we still make in this country!

    At least the celeb children go to celeb school where all the other kids have strange names too. Its the kids from non celeb backgrounds that get lumbered with awful names that i feel sorry for. I live up in Newcastle and i heard one story of a Mr & Mrs Bridge who wanted to call their daughter Tyne…

    BK You can’t have been a man once: if you had, you’d clearly have more insight into the suffering of manflu victims. Agreed anyone who spends time and money criticising/opposing instead of investing in simply meeting people at their point of need is missing the point.

    This has been fun, but i’m gonna propose an antidote list:

    10) Opposable thumbs (what a brilliant idea)
    9) Khan’s curry house on heaton Road (Curry is proof that there is a God and He loves us very much)
    8) Jalapeno Drum Kits (i need to remind myself that envy is a sin – i wants, i wants!)
    7) Hockey, the greatest sport in the universe
    6) Chip Bailey
    5) word magazine (possibly the anti-daily mail, definitely the anti-NME)
    4)The architecture of Hopkins and Partners (buidings that make you feel alive)
    3) ASBO Jesus (needs no introduction)
    2) Anything by Johnny Cash, Duke Special , Nick Cave or Justin Grounds , amongst others (musical and spiritual depth and then some.)
    1) The Millenium Development Goals and the Drop the Debt Campaign

  73. Steve says:

    I’m reading these comments and nodding and grinning – I hope that people around me at work think I’m listening to something really great on my headphones (Herbie Hancock actually)
    Anyway, the things that make me want to live somewhere other than Britain, even though I love my country:
    1. All night shopping. I don’t care how convenient it is to be able to get Coco Pops at 3am, lots of countries still have shops closed at night and on Sundays (and half-day closing one day a week) and people don’t run out of food.
    2. “Mosquito” devices that emit noise only children and young people can hear. These are discriminatory and contravene the UN Declaration on the Rights of the Child.
    3. Newspapers being able to get away with using words like “nutter” and “psycho” for people with mental illness. 1 in 6 people have mental health problems; this kind of stigma doesn’t help.
    4. Expensive, inefficient, dirty public transport. No wonder people don’t want to leave their cars at home.
    5. Sexual imagery being used to sell practically everything. In fact, sexual imagery being used to sell anything.
    6. Thoughtless, catch-all reasons for why the country is in the mess it is (it’s the immigrants, it’s the school system, it’s because we don’t have National Service, etc); the newspapers and other media that peddle this kind of nonsense.
    7. Anyone who thinks it’s OK to go out at night purely for the purpose of getting drunk. People have been getting drunk ever since humans discovered alcohol, but there’s a huge difference between “Come and spend time with me, we’ll have a bottle of wine… oh dear, we seem to have had three” and “Let’s go out to get completely hammered.”
    8. Christmas decorations in shops from the end of August.
    9. A work culture that says if you really want this job/that promotion, you should work many additional hours without pay, no matter what the damage to your family, your personal life or your health.
    10. The all-pervading mantra of “choice”: that having more choice is always good, and therefore it is better to offer five low-quality alternatives rather than one well-designed product or solution. This is why schools end up teaching kids how to pass SATs rather than stuff they need to learn, because the schools need to get higher in the League Table, because the parents have to have “choice”

    Wow, that was a cathartic rant. Thanks.

  74. Commenter at 53….yes!!! Me too!! One night in our local 24hr store (unfortunately 24hr tesco is the nearer than a local corner shop for me) I watched as people waited in line for an hour because the machines did things like that to every single person who used them so many times!!! And they don’t let you reuse shopping bags because it thinks its something you’re trying to steal without paying otherwise known as ‘Unidentified item in the bagging area’

    Have had several rants on my blog about those evil demonic machines….


    Linus – if it makes you feel better, I’m stuck on my one day off still in PJs wrapped in a scarf with a throat full of broken glass, thumping headache and very gross nose.

    But Steve, I have to say as someone who does shift work, 24 hr stores/late night opening times have been such a blessing…often not able to go shopping during ‘usual hours’.

  75. But I’m with you on the rest!! (except for the Mosquito thing, but only because I have no idea what that is??)

  76. Robb says:

    Linus – Khans produce a curry of monumental gastronomic delight!!

    Jalapeno kits are nice. My drummer prefers Tama. It is his idolatry of Lars Ulrich that is to blame.

    Steve – I have to disagree. 3AM is the ideal time to shop without being shoved and pushed around by people with no manners who are clearly blinkered into their own selfish desires to get a packet of whatever.

    While I think about it, the first talk I went to at Greenbelt I had to tell off someone equally rude. I think the loud words I spoke in a crowded environment to the offending ‘gentleman’ were “if you would like me to move the words you are looking for are excuse me. It is not socially acceptable to simply kick strangers who are in the way as a way of alerting them to your needs”.

    Lets put people like him on the list.

    I digress…

    And the oxymoronical Choice of School – the belief that all children have the equal right to an education – meaning that no ones needs are met *equally across the board*.

  77. Linus says:

    Thought you’d agree with me about Khan’s, Robb. Your drummer is a muppet. And you can tell him i said that. But don’t tell him who i am, cos i might actually make it down to one of your gigs at some point, and i think Adam could probably beat me to a pulp quite easily (and in all fairness, i’ve only come across the budget Tama kits, and they’re ok as budget kits go.)

    BK owww! Get well soon. I think my friend the Right Honourable* Desmond Hilary has the answer

    *for the all important context to this description, see comment 15 here

  78. Forrest says:

    Linus says in #73; “Becky we have to export our banal celebrities – its the only thing we still make in this country!”

    Y’all too, eh.
    Sometimes I wonder if USA stands for Uber Shallow Americans.

  79. Ros says:

    Top ten things that have wrecked Britain.

    1 – The Daily Mail and it’s hate filled bile (also similar things)
    2 – US/UK foreign policy. Because now, half the world hate us just as much as they hate the US!
    3 – Chelsea FC and their rich owner throwing money at the team. See also, both Manchester clubs.
    4 – ZZZelebrity culture and the glossy rags that promote it.
    5 – Music as ringtones.
    6 – Margaret Thatcher. For declaring war on the miners.
    7 – Tony Blair. For introducing University tuition fees and top up fees.
    8 – Gordon Brown. For screwing the lowest paid workers.
    9 – Chavs, and wannabe gangstas. Stop trying to be someone you’re not.
    10 – People who think skin colour is a mark of character. It isn’t. Now grow up!

  80. Becky says:

    73. Yes, celebrity kids tend to hang out with each other by and large. But you can’t avoid having them shoved in your face whether you like it or not. I can’t go to the grocery store without seeing the tabloids at the checkout screaming out the latest celebrity gossip – and said gossip often involves the celeb using their kid(s) as the tool to get them in the news. I abhor watching gossip shows – I don’t give a rat’s ass whose gay unless I’m dating him or he is engaged in gay bashing activities. But try to watch the regular news without some kind of an update on the latest celebrity scandal.

    74. You’ll find many of these things in ANY urban environment here in the US. Linus I don’t know if you’re in the UK or US but the UK is exporting to the US the Anglican emerging stream of church which is MUCH better than the US Emergent Church variety. Other things that are better in the UK:

    1. Greenbelt – no way in hell an Amercanized version will come close. That’s a unique experience.
    2. Cadbury – don’t eat the US version once you’ve had it in the UK.
    3. 4pm tea – I did that all the time when I studied in the UK in 1982 but didn’t see that much happening when I was in the UK in 2007 – did they stop doing that?
    4. Guinness – seriously it tastes like crapola once it hits the US.
    5. Music – except for Bruce Springsteen, most of my favorite music originated from the UK or Europe.
    I could go on but you get the gist …

  81. Caroline Too says:

    My list of 10 things that have damaged UK (unless you’ve not noticed we’re still limping along but not wrecked:

    1) teachers who teach rather than helping people learn
    2) managers who deal with their anxieties by dumping on others
    3) makers of chocolate, they are 50% to blame for how fat I am
    4) makers of biscuits – the other 50%
    5) management teachers who seem to think that human complexity can be managed by one person (probably a bloke) following a simple 5 step rule
    6) sermon preachers (how long do you think it’ll take them to realise that we’re all asleep of sucking humbugs
    7) right thinking people
    8 emoticons that come on when you don’t want them to
    9) our strange sense that cleverness is the ability to tell others why ‘it’ can’t be done.
    10) ASBO Jesus, ‘cos checking in and enjoying the conversations and wonderful cartoons stops me when I ought to be working.

    and the five things that make UK?

    1) ASBO Jesus and all the other guys who are able to look at the world from a ‘slight tangent’
    2) my friends who seem to hang around when I probably don’t deserve them to
    3) Warlingham Rugby Football Club winning (no, I don’t understand that one either :-o
    4) Long Buckby, an ugly village with a heart of gold
    5) those people who get on and try to do ‘it’ anyway.

  82. jonbirch says:

    aaaw thanks caroline… :-) great list… love the fact that chocolate and biscuits are in no way your fault… brilliant! :-)

    becky… thanks for the nice stuff… britain loves you too! :-)

  83. jonbirch says:

    linus, thanks! :-)

    steve, ros… if only i’d allowed myself more than 10 i’d have nicked some of yours! :-)

  84. Robb says:

    Linus – the tama kit that he plays is made (in parts) from boobinga and has black skins throuout… plus a 10″ snare and a 12″ ebony snare…. i guess what I am trying to say is that my drummer spent 400 notes on a double kick pedal. Erm…. his kit is spectacular.

    Lets face it, Lars plays one. He is not to be upheld as God… or a ‘bit of a tit’ but merely as “one who has tonnes of cash who can offoard lots of nice stuff”!!

    8 emoticons that come on when you don’t want them to


  85. Becky says:

    If the dollar didn’t suck, I’d move.

  86. Steve Lancaster says:

    Hey Linus, I’m in Whitley Bay! Agree with you re: Nick Cave…

    Kayte M.26 – Oh I love this story!!

    Other things I love about the UK:
    1. Oliver Postgate
    2. Daily Mail (it’s so good to have something reliably crass to kick against – does a service to us all)
    3. You, me, us, all of us
    4. ‘Cos we’re the UK, everywhere else is not: the best Foreign Travel Opportunities ever. And definitely the best asylum seekers.
    5. Graham Kendrick. And Wensleydale.
    6. Red and Grey Squirrels
    7. Love
    8. My In-Laws
    9. Everything going on under the radar…
    10. Just… stuff.

  87. Carole says:

    Steve Lancaster – I like the way you have balanced things up in a tidy, Nick Hornby kind of a way. For me, things I love about the UK, in no particular order and certainly not exhaustive:

    1. In spite moaning about the amount of rain we have, I love the colour of the grass, which is only due to the regular deluges.

    2. The English language and the diversity of dialects and accents spoken here.

    3. The fact that the inhabitants of these islands were the first to speak this language we call English, so we have the opportunity to get all superior when it comes to other forms of world English. ;)

    4. Sorry if it gets under people’s skin, but I do actually love the pomp and ceremony of the big occasion. Not in a jingoistic kind of a way, but it goes with the history, the stories, the traditions and the heritage that I have loved since I was a child. I admire all of this in other cultures so I am bound to love my own just that little bit more…aren’t I?

    5. Clotted cream teas – P-er-LEASE don’t insult me with the abomination that is squirty cream!

    6. In spite of much criticism, the NHS.

    7. By and large, British people – because I am one, I pretty well know where I stand with them and that does make me feel comfortable.

    8. The sense of humour and our ability to laugh at ourselves. Humourless Britons get on my nerves! They should know better!

    9. It has diminished to a certain extent in recent years but most people still have a good sense of fair play.

    10. The landscape – I’m not going to pin it down, there are too many places I love and too many places I have yet to love. In that whole package is the National Trust for maintaining such a lot of the landscape of this country (though I once heard a tour boat skipper in the Farne Islands being less than complimentary about the NT!)

  88. Steve says:

    Brunettekoala: sorry, was being a bit blinkered in my nice 9 to 5 existence there. And Robb, yes, it is nice to go shopping without incidents of trolley rage. But having been on holiday to rural France and rediscovered the strange delightful freedom of Sundays and evenings with all the shops closed, I still think that we’ve gone too far with 24 hour consumerism.

    Brunettekoala: the campaign against the Mosquito is here.

  89. jonbirch says:

    okay… my positive list of stuff. by no means the whole list!

    1. sunday lunch and sunday tea.

    2. the colour green in the landscape… it’s everywhere!

    3. native birds (feathered)… very pretty and underrated.

    4. badgers.

    5. the history… so much of it is visible and quite beautiful… much is still being discovered.

    6. pubs… old ones with open fires and great real ale.

    7. remembrance day. an amazing, poignant and beautiful tradition.

    8. daffodils. they’re like trumpets heralding in the new season!

    9. the bbc. it is very flawed, but still produces some amazing things.

    10. william wilberforce and his gang. he is someone who gives me some pride in being british.

  90. Mimou says:

    Brunettekoala : so know, so annoying those tesco self-service machines!! Btw, I am in Glasgow so hello from here, and actually heading your way today!

    Becky, nice comments!

    Jon, this thread and topic was an ace idea, great “conversation” over here :)

  91. Carole says:

    Jon, why didn’t I think of your list? You know I think this has been a wonderful exercise; to have started by exposing all the negatives, which was very cathartic, acknowledging them, accepting them and having some resolution at the end. As imperfect as it is, I do love my country. Maybe I can learn to accept and to love me, too. Thanks to all who guided the discussion this way.

  92. JF says:

    For my money, Kendrick has got to be right up there, though!

  93. Forrest says:

    William Wilberforce and Railway geek trivia:

    Around 1831-32 the Stockton and Darlington Railway had built a double tender, meaning one coal tender in front and water tender behind the locomotive, 0-6-0 steam locomotive named “Wilberforce”


    Sadly, photo is of loco minus tenders.

    Also appears some discrepancy on who built the thing: most references:
    “Hackworth’s next locomotive was the Wilberforce class 0-6-0 of which six were built in 1831-2.”

    Photo caption:
    Stockton & Darlington railway locomotive ‘Wilberforce’ built by R & W Hawthorn 1833

  94. blue139 says:

    Christians who write lists of things that have ‘wrecked’ Britain and do nothing to improve Britain…..

  95. Robb says:

    ha ha nice one!!

  96. Becky says:

    I can’t believe I forgot to add – Monty Python – my humor is sooo British that it’s unreal. I got addicted to MP when I was 13 and it saved me. So next to UK emerging church that’s the best thing to come out of the UK.

  97. Becky says:

    Oh yeah, I’d add Wilberforce – and also my ancestor Roger Williams the pioneer of religious tolerance here in the states (though the way he was treated by everyone was horrid). I’m also related to the Pilgrims but I kind of wish they had gone back to England.

  98. drnixck says:

    …and now coming in very late…

    – Caravan’s on single carriageways (I agree with BrunetteKoala on that!)
    – Political correctness
    – reality tv
    – sex divorced from love and its God ordained boundries (to steal a line from Nicky Gumbel!)
    – cultural churchianity (i.e. you are english therefore you must be christian)
    – the M25
    – the awarding of failure or just plan useless things (ala the city bonus culture, or footballers salaries, etc)
    – moral relativity
    – some aspects of the enlightenment
    – oh yeah and don’t forget the biggest one….. me (I’m a fallen messed human trying to be better and getting it wrong…)

  99. Pete says:

    1. Sin
    2. Cynicism
    3. Mushrooms
    4. Marmite
    5. Squeezy marmite

    That’s as far as I can go…

  100. Forrest says:

    drnixck says there in 101 –
    “me (I’m a fallen messed human trying to be better and getting it wrong…)”

    Good concise description of where we’re all at a good lot of the time.

  101. Caroline Too says:

    some additional thoughts on people who are wrecking Britain:

    a) people who complain about “political correctness gone mad”
    – I just suspect that they don’t understand how language shapes attitudes

    b) people who complain about post code lottery
    – come on guys, how can you avoid this if you want local accountability

    my suspicion is that these two are subsets of ‘right thinking people’

    c) train and plane seats… ok so I’m fat but I can’t imagine that anyone is thin enough to fit comfortably into those wretched things…

    some more things that make uk great

    1) wind – so that I can go sailing and forget about all the stresses of work for a few hours
    2) autumn in Milton Keynes… yes, that place people like to laugh at… as the tree and park lined roads hit autumn and leaves start to turn, it’s a very beautiful sight
    3) blogsites with really good conversational visitors… it’s so good to smile with, talk with and grumble with you guys! :-)

  102. Carole says:

    Hi Caroline Too!

    Just reading your last post and I think I know what your are saying but I’m not entirely convinced. Perhaps with the political correctness thing it is that many jump on the bandwagon but don’t really understand the purpose. Every time someone really winds me up with the political correctness thing, they talk to me in much the same way as those kids at school used to…you know, you say. “oh, crap!”, they say, “Aaaaah, I’m telling Miss, you said a naughty word!” In a group one time someone said, “Shall we just brainstorm it?”, then another group member perks up with, “I don’t think it’s politically correct to say that, you should say word shower, brainstorm is offensive to epileptics.” A friend was attending a course prior to fostering where she discovered she was no longer allowed to say black coffee, it had to be coffee without milk. Like I say, I understand the motivation, but I believe the heavy handed, patronising, ‘word police’ approach does nothing to engage the co-operation of the average person. It’s not what you do, it’s the way you go about it, I suppose.

    As for the postcode lottery, I am less concerned with local accountability than with a fair system for all. If I couldn’t get certain medications that I needed or a particular operation, I would not be happy.

    As for your item 3 on the ‘what makes the UK great” list. I wholeheartedly agree. It’s been delightful (sort of) disagreeing with you, Caroline!

  103. Robb says:

    Caroline too – I am of the opinion that political “correctness gone mad” is a bad thing. However, as I said earlier – when did the Daily Mail become the correct place for the reasoned debate to take place? I would argue that “the daily mail saying ‘political correctness gone mad'” should be on the list because what they actually mean is “political incorrectness should abound”.

    That said, most of these instances of “political correctness gone mad” are dingoes kidneys. Someone says something as a joke and it gets put into the canon of urban myths. I have yet to encounter somewhere with a policy on “brainstorming” and yet everyone trots it out as though it is fact.

    ‘Winterval’ is only ever proposed by caucasians who have self appointed to the position of ‘voice of the oppressed minority’. When the patronised ‘oppressed minority’ actually speaks, it does not want this ‘political correctness gone mad’ it wants to be able to celebrate it’s own cultural heritage and give the ‘perceived oppressors’ the right to have this also.

    Post code lottery? How do I find out if I have won. Has it been a rollover? Will I receive by cheque or will my account be credited?

  104. Carole says:

    Robb, the brainstorm thing was trotted out to me about seven or eight years ago by a social worker. I have always assumed (rightly or wrongly) that people who work for Social Services are the fount of all knowledge on things PC-wise. It just made me want to manufacture situations where I could use the word ‘brainstorm’. Imagine my delight when one of the schools I was placed in last year had a real blackboard. ;)

  105. ooooo things I LOVE about this country..

    1. fat boy breakfasts – nobody does the fry-up like we do.

    2. the beauty and diversity of our countryside and wildlife (even the grey squirrels)

    3. Our sense of humour

    4. the way we make the best of a bad situation.

    5. Sundays in the pub

    6. Comfort food (stew and dumplings, shepherds pie etc – yeah, I know, I’m a cholesterol junkie)

    7. Crisp Autumn mornings and the smell of woodsmoke

    8. Our history and heritage in the landscape (not the appalling things we’ve done to other people and other countries)

    9. The things we take for granted – our police force, NHS, freedom of speech, women’s rights…compared to what I’ve seen in other countries we are blessed (though I agree it’s far from perfect)

    10. ASBO….there may be other sites as good as this but I haven’t found one yet

  106. rebecca says:

    On political correctness: I find both political correctness and political incorrectness objectionable! The former involves expressions that have been hopelessly distorted to avoid offence, and end up being even more offensive: using an expression such as “visually challenged” to mean “blind” is an excellent example. It suggests a blind person would be able to see if they only tried harder!

    And the latter involves expressions that are offensive in their own right, but could have been avoided with a little thought. There was one in a song written by somebody who really ought to have known better (I won’t say who, but it wasn’t Graham Kendrick) — it implied that someone who was black had a problem in the same way that someone who was hungry had a problem. Thankfully the song has now been changed.

    Perhaps the important point is that we all need to be thoughtful, and sensitive. That includes not condemning anyone who gets it wrong.

  107. Becky says:

    At the risk of sounding horrid, this news made my day:


    I feel for those of you in the UK but as someone who lives in New York City (one of Hilton’s haunts) I am glad she’s out of her at least for now.

  108. Steve Lancaster says:

    Becky, thanks for this, you’re Our (Not So) New USABF!

  109. Steve Lancaster says:

    …And do Americans really call British Best Friends BBFs?

    So many acronyms, so little time…

  110. Robb says:

    Paris Hilton declaring a permanent move to the UK is like a butterfly declasring it’s permanent residence on one flower…

  111. Becky says:

    112. …And do Americans really call British Best Friends BBFs?
    The heiresses who don’t wear underwear crew and coin banal phrases like “that’s hot” they use terms like this. For the rest of us, BFF is BS.

    113. Yeah but given Madonna is moving back to Manhattan, I’m glad to have Paris over there for a while.

    What’s annoying is when these folks make the local news – so you tune in to get things like the weather and you get their whereabouts. It’s shoved in my face whether I want it or not – I realize what I have to start doing is whenever she comes on the air, turn the TV off – the only way for faux celebs to go away is for people to boycott her appearances – she gets paid to show up at parties because her presence brings the paparazzi and they take pictures. We have to all stop buying the tabloid rags, watching the godawful gossip shows, reading the bitchy blogs, etc.

  112. Becky says:

    In an unrelated note – Jon I sent you an email and it got returned cause it said your mailbox is disabled – can you send me your new email address?

  113. The Daily Mail is excrable!

  114. themethatisme says:

    Oh, I had always found Mr. Letts quite execrable but all of sudden I find something to agree with him about.

  115. jonbirch says:

    more great comments! just noticed ‘em! :-)

    ‘so many acronyms, so little time.’ you’re not wrong mr lancaster… so, ttfn! :-)

  116. Pingback: Baggins’ World » Blog Archive » I wrote this a while back…

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