Is this how you feel about England? that it’s a

‘pestilent swamp overrun by thieves and blackguards … unsavoury migrants, snaky politicians, dodgy bankers, rip-off businesses, EU dictators and horrible activists … (we) are drunk on misery; bitter, restless, chronically dissatisfied, frustrated, suspicious and filling our tanks with formless anger.’

Out of 10 nations in a lifestyle survey last week, we came bottom. Whatever happened to our wartime motto, ‘mustn’t grumble’?

And yet other nations, ones with chronic poverty, corruption, institutional violence and government by thugs, look at us and wonder why we are so angry and so miserable.

‘They see a country with an old and unassailable democracy, rule of law, an army which never oppresses the people, rights for all (at least in principle), an economy that still gives most people the chance to make a living even during painful recessions, low interest rates, long life expectancy, a brilliant NHS, stability, enterprise, extraordinary cultural productivity and freedoms they can only pine for. They long to migrate to our shores, even now, after the disastrous Iraq war and our duplicitous dealings with murderous dictators.’

Sometimes it takes an immigrant to give us indigenes the bigger picture.


(Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, the Independent, 3 Oct 2011)



  1. I think Blighty is possibly the best country to live in if you are a woman….well a Blightien woman anyway.

    I do think the media thrive on whipping up fear and stress in people – which is why I rarely look at the newspapers or racks of ghastly magasines about film-stars’ cellulite etc! 🙄


    1. couldn’t agree more about the cellulite – nobody knew it existed until the celebrity mags took over, and it is definitely one case where ignorance is bliss 😉


    1. I know a lot of people feel that about UK. I lived for 10 years in Nigeria and decided that I had had all the sun I wanted while I was there!! It’s much worse to be without rain, than to have too much.


  2. I think many of us tend to be most critical of our own countries, and I see this as good and healthy, as long as it doesn’t become obsessive and bitter. England has many pluses, but I think it is presently in a transitional stage.


  3. Who undertook the survey; did you get see the methodology?

    While I quite like listening to Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, I always feel a need to do so cautiously. Motivations are interesting and we really can only guess at those.


    1. Indeed!

      No, I didn’t see the methodology, but it follows a survey a few months ago in which the Brits scored highly at being miserable. I would like to know what the questions were and how they were weighted, because some of our ‘misery’ is actually tongue-in-cheek humour.

      We’re certainly not as miserable as Romanians 😉


      1. I don’t think our humours are understood, even by other Brits in other regions. Irony is the most misunderstood. And yes, like you, I should be interested in the formation and assessment of the questions. I’d also like to know more about the control group used. I doubt we would get to know that, and I do question what the researchers remit was in relation the mix of people approached.

        There are too many vague areas for this research to be taken seriously. It the research needs further examination and research in itself. It’s great for journalists!


      2. Put it this way, there is always going to be a nugget of truth in all such exercises, as people’s views and moods do differ and vary, even with the time of day and year, the world over. This does not necessarily account for trauma, or other kinds of upset that might exist and be demonstrated in a number of the answers you might get to whatever questions were asked.


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