Tag Archives: England

The Return of Midsomer Murders

Wednesday night at 8pm on ITV1 sees the return of Midsomer Murders.  Tom Barnaby has retired and his cousin, John, (who we met in a previous series) has kindly come up from Brighton to take over as Detective Chief Inspector Barnaby in the interests of continuity.

Now this is quite a turn up for die-hard Midsomer fans.  The main character has left, but we are thankfully rescued by someone from the same genetic pool.  Not like poor old Taggart.  The eponymous Taggart dies and, 300 years later, we still have a programme called Taggart but with no Taggart.

That would not do for Midsomer Maniacs.  No no.  We are gently lulled back to a happy state by another Barnaby and he seems to be a decent chap with a glint in his eye and I’m sure I will like him.  Phew everything’s back to normal.

Except it isn’t.  It’s not enough that there are more murders per square mile than South Central, that anyone in a floral frock will almost certainly cut your throat, or that an innocent reading circle is more than likely a murderous gang of octogenarian hedge fund managers.

It’s far worse than that.  There are No Brown Faces in Midsomer.

Now.  I live in a small, middle class, rural village, in the East Midlands, twelve miles out of Leicester.  Leicester, along with Peterborough, now has more than 50% ‘of the population who are not White British, that is Asian, Afro Caribbean etc.  Being an escaped Londoner, I enjoy going into Leicester and seeing a broader ethnic mix and I relish the cultural diversity that comes with it.

But in my village, the one next to it, the two next to that and the several beyond that, I can count on one hand the amount of brown people who live there.  Boy the Younger’s school, which is in one of these villages, has a few brown families, not that anyone even thinks about it, and Boy the Elder’s school which is about 5 miles out of Leicester hardly has any – in fact I’m not sure I’ve seen a single one.

I make no judgement about this.  I will not attempt to suggest reasons why there are few brown faces, or hint at any socio-economic undertones governing the demographics, it is simply a fact that in rural villages one is less likely to see the cultural diversity that exists in large towns and cities.  My Asian friends live in villages nearer to Leicester because they are professionals and their jobs are in the towns or cities.

Brian True May, the producer and co-creator,  phrased himself badly when he suggested that the presence of ethnic minorities would make the show less English, or that he was appealing to a certain audience and wouldn’t want to change it.   I asked two of my brown friends if they had an opinion on it and their view was pretty much that they’d never noticed.  But now they’re hopping mad about it – actually I made that last bit up, they couldn’t give a toss.

Criticising Midsomer Murders for lack of racial diversity is missing the point.  It’s far more important to encourage the television companies to commission a broad range of good drama that reflects both historical and contemporary society.  There’s a lot of crap on our screens that neither informs nor properly entertains.  How about paring that down and spending the money on quality programmes and encourage some of the brilliant upcoming writers and producers to make something that will make us catch our breath?

Midsomer Murders is a jolly good detective drama, set in a fictional county with a preposterous and jaw-dropping amount of intrigues, deaths, maniacs, deviants and mutilations.  Despite that, there are no depictions of graphic violence, there is no swearing and there are no sex scenes.  On the whole, I’d say that the ethnic representation is the most realistic thing in it.

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Filed under Crime, Poetry, Literature, Music and Art, Reviews

Rugby Union

England 59

Italy 13

Hurrah!

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Filed under Sport

Well done England!

In which I briefly discuss the difference between National Pride and Nationalism, applaud the England Cricket Team and invite you to be a bit less cynical about England’s abilities in general.

Last night, quite uncharacteristically, I fell asleep on the sofa.  I never fall asleep during the day and sleep like the dead at night, although rarely for long enough.  Yesterday had been particularly busy and, after putting The Boys to bed, I settled down to watch an episode of Morse.  My Sisters bought me the entire series in a boxed set for Christmas – there is something very wonderful about a boxed set of anything.  At about 9.10, I selected an early episode that I hadn’t seen before, took a slurp of tea and promptly fell asleep.

I opened my eyes, wondering sleepily how Morse had managed to solve the murder in a matter of minutes, and realised that it was quarter past ten.  Right, I thought radically, I’m going to go to bed.  I made a large mug of Ovaltine, and snuggled up with the radio playing softly and continued with Bill Bryson’s ‘Thunderbolt Kid’ (which I was also given for Christmas – I really was a very good girl last year).

The English Cricket Team 2011

At some point during the night, a voice from the radio excitedly announced that England had won The Ashes.  I switched off the light and the radio and went back to sleep, feeling very pleased indeed.  I like cricket although I don’t follow it closely, but I am always delighted when England wins anything, because the achievements of one’s country should be a source of National Pride, particularly if that success is borne of genuine talent and skill.

Next year, London is going to host the Olympic Games which, in my opinion, is absolutely brilliant. England has a long history of excellence in engineering, construction, organisation and pageantry and I believe it will be a wonderful opportunity to showcase both our talents and our athletes.  It will re-generate an area of London which badly needs it and, if managed properly, can be a valuable resource and inspiration for sport for the whole country for a long time to come.

The last time the Olympics were held in England was in 1948, just after WW2, and it was appropriate that it should have been held in the capital city.  It would have been nice if one of the other cities had been successful this time, but that’s not how it turned out.

But I am  absolutely sick to death of hearing so many people slagging off our involvement in the games and casting aspersions on our ability to host them successfully.  There is no earthly reason why we shouldn’t make a success of it and, as we are embarking on a period of necessary austerity, we could take the opportunity to demonstrate to the rest of the world that events of this kind can be carried off with efficiency and panache without bankrupting the country in the process.

There was a time when it was perfectly acceptable to express pride in Britain and the achievements of its inhabitants.  I think that it’s very interesting that the inclination towards national criticism coincides with a rise in unpleasant nationalism as expressed by The British National Party and other right wing organisations whose agenda is nothing to be proud of whatsoever. 

I am completely in favour of supporting and promoting British interests and businesses and I put my money where my mouth is at every possible opportunity.  I am also both conscious and proud that we have historically proved to be an inclusive country where diversity is celebrated more than almost anywhere else on earth. 

That is not to say that we shouldn’t have stringent immigration laws – we are a small island and, as I said before, we have to put our own interests first.  But throughout history England’s economy has survived because we have recognised the value of migrant workers and the skills and cultural benefits that they bring.

I constantly remind Boy the Elder that his intermittent streams of negative invective about current affairs, and his own current affairs at school, are extremely unattractive and not remotely cool.  I suggest that the constant whinging about how awful everything is in Britain is equally unattractive and un-cool and we should get a grip. 

I’m not suggesting that we should all be wandering about in a state of starry-eyed, patriotic ecstasy, but I am definitely suggesting that we should take a long hard look at what we’ve actually got and be glad of it.  If there are things that need changing, either personally or in the wider world, then we should see what we can do to change those things. 

Let’s not turn into a decadent society in which we are disempowered, de-skilled and useless whilst at the same time demanding that someone else should do something about it.  We have to be realistic about how the country can function and thrive and that means being realistic about what we’re good at as well.

Well done to the English Cricket Team and here’s to the success of the London Olympics.

At this point the Wartime Housewife considers falling to her knees, sobbing with emotion and warbling the National Anthem, but mercifully pulls back from the brink. 
Here is a picture of  Princess Elizabeth and some dogs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are some other articles I’ve written about sport:

If you have a note from your mother…

The only article I am ever likely to write about football


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Filed under History, Politics, Sport

Oh dear

Well played Germany.

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Filed under Leisure, Outdoor Activities, Sport

Sunday Poem 6

Ivor Gurney is probably best known as a musician and was a contemporary of Vaughan Williams, Bliss and Ireland.  

In 1912 he began setting poetry to music and very soon started to write his own poems.  It was around this time that the first signs of his mental instability began to manifest.  He endured 15 years of intermittent mental illness, which was triggered, but not solely caused, by his experiences in The Great War.  He survived the war but died in 1937 in Dartford Asylum.

For an excellent book on the lives and work of 12 poets from the First World War have a look at Anthem for Doomed Youth by Jon Stallworthy.

Servitude by Ivor Gurney – 1917

If it were not for England, who would bear
This heavy servitude one moment more?
To keep a brothel, sweep and wash the floor
Of filthiest hovels were noble to compare
With this brass-cleaning life.  Now here, now there
Harried in foolishness, scanned curiously o’er
By fools made brazen by conceit, and store
Of antique witticisms thin and bare.

Only the love of comrades sweetens all,
Whose laughing spirit will not be outdone.
As night-watching men wait for the sun
To hearten them, so wait I on such boys
As  neither brass nor Hell-fire may appal,
Nor guns, nor sergeant-major’s bluster and noise.

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Filed under Poetry, Literature, Music and Art