British Empire No More

THERE was a time when Britain was the premier country in the world. Those days are a distant memory.

Gone is Empire and perish the thought that we might even think of sending a gunboat anywhere to enforce our wishes because we’d be made international pariahs. Anyway, we couldn’t afford the diesel bill for sending a warship any further than the Isle of Wight.

Now our claim to fame is more likely to be hidden away than boasted about such as our status as the eighth laziest country in the world while, out of 143 countries, we rank in the bottom half of the list for happiness.

We are also down to 27th in a list of the best countries to be born in this year behind South Korea – assuming North Korea doesn’t drop a nuclear bomb on them – Kuwait and Chile. Nigeria finished bottom behind Kenya and the Ukraine.

The news is pretty grim on the economic ratings front as well with Britain predicted to be overtaken by the likes of Mexico and Indonesia in coming decades.

It may not surprise you to learn that Britain doesn’t feature at all in the world’s top 22 destinations for retirement, but it is ranked ninth in the world as a favourite honeymoon destination. It was beaten by the Maldives, the Caribbean, Greece, Italy, Thailand, Africa, the USA and the Seychelles.That’s all right then!

Britain fares even better in the world’s top holiday destinations for 2013, being ranked fifth behind Spain, France, Greece and the USA.

So spare a thought for the faded British Empire which, at its height, was the largest in history.

Barely 90 years ago it gazed, sometimes benevolently and sometimes not, over a quarter of the entire planet and a fifth of the world’s population.

We can now barely muster enough military clout to have a realistic chance of defending the Falkland Islands while our economic woes are so pitiful that we don’t know where our next import of wine for the House of Commons is coming from.

We have a welfare state which has crumbled from the pride of the world embracing all who needed healthcare to an institution under siege with generally wonderful staff fighting a terrible system and poor funding.

A comfortable old age is rapidly becoming a myth to rank with honest politicians as we all struggle to make ends meet.

Values change and what we took for granted before such as food on the table and a roof over our heads has to be increasingly fought for and fought for hard.

Jobs attract an avalanche of applications as the populace struggles to give itself an income it can rely on and we have all just been told that it could be 2020 before the stranglehold on interest rates is relaxed enough to give savers even a semblance of hope.

Yes, we have come a long way……..down….. slowly swapping the days of Empire for the days of Expire.

Like every Government for several decades, the current one is talking about belt-tightening and jam tomorrow in a political atmosphere constantly compared to squabbles in a school playground but without that intelligence.

Ordinary people are left longing for stability, perhaps not of Empire which had its own flaws, but certainly for a simple state of living where we’re not constantly looking over our shoulder.

I suppose nostalgia isn’t what it used to be. Still, we’ve always got a heatwave summer to look forward to, haven’t we?

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