On thinking about it, I find that we English tend to have a wonderful ability to exaggerate our history - particularly in the notion that we gave things to the world that the world didn't have before. Though that may be true in respect of things mechanical and the ability to divide and rule, the notion that our sense of civilisation was any better than what existed in all the lands that we occupied is often a completely flawed notion. This was particularly true in India, which - I am sure - will come back and show us to be the repository of true civilisation in not many years from now.
Many even think that the sciences stemmed from Isaac Newton and other European greats, until a study of history reveals that in the medieval period it was the world of Islam that provided the basis of later European knowledge. And the Muslim world derived most of their knowledge from Greece who in turn worked on knowledge from ... India. And Muslims also did quite a bit of work in developing scientific knowledge on their own bat. Spain still boasts remnants of the glory that was Islam while we think of the Crusades as that wonderful time of adventure embarked upon by marvellous knights of the garter - or some such thing. The story of the massacre of the inhabitants of Jerusalem is often conveniently forgotten or glossed over.
Coming back to Britain, the attempt to hide the truth of the Thatcher reign and the brutality of that period is brutal in itself, and, combined with earlier events, is the real cause of the north-south divide. On top of that, there are many who are also too ready to deride the period of the Labour administration after World War Two, when in fact it should be regarded as a remarkable piece of reconstruction in extremely difficult times.
I was very amused to hear the other evening a remark made by the Tory Ken Clark (who I normally have some time for) who gave an example of the situation in 1979 of a nationalised company called British Road Services that controlled two-thirds of the road distribution service and was losing a lot of money. It had to be privatised, he said. Well, all very good, except that British Road Services was created by the Attlee government as part of a nationalised rail and road distribution service, designed to provide seamless delivery for the nation. Well, with the return of the Tories from 1951 onwards - and particularly with the application of Beeching cuts - that philosophy of service was progressively dismantled.
It's interesting that a number of the rail services cut by Beeching are now coming back into operation. But that is by-the-by.
But what is true is that there are some in this (once) fair isle of ours that consider that Britain was so Great that they have the right to shoot and hunt like the old Norman conquerors as masters of the land ... and also put down those blackguards that disturb the peace of that reverie - the descendants of those that provided the labour to build the Great Britain the toffs remember. How dare they (they say) protest against the Poll Tax and other niceties put in front of the plebs for their dilectation. "Come and join us at Eton and Harrow and know what being a gentleman is", is the example set by the current government front bench while the disabled scramble to survive.
A classless, caring, society? Phooey. Yet another attempt at the re-writing of history.
Our (British) devotion to sport is really our way of desensitising life's reality.