Americans are brash. French people are rude. Asian people are smart. And English people – as well as being snooty, unable to express emotions and, according to Hollywood, make perfect super villains – moan about the weather. I’m not sure about the other stereotypes, but the Brits do like to whinge that it’s too wet, hot, cold or snowy.
This has been even more true of late with the atypical stuff Mother Nature has been throwing at us. The snow threw us into a tizzy and gave us a whole host of things to moan about. Roads weren’t salted, trains weren’t running, planes grounded, Xmases ruined. One look at Facebook and you could see everyone shouting about how annoyed they were…me included. And it’s not just the weather. We work ourselves into paroxysms of rage about tourists getting in our way, inflation, that Katie Price is allowed on TV and all the other niggly irritations of modern life. On my first day back at work this year when the extremely surly London Underground worker told me that my season ticket had gone up in price after I had stood in a queue for half an hour, I was sorely tempted to start ranting about tube strikes and train delays, but instead I waited so my colleagues and I could rant together at work.
Which is fine isn’t it? We’re in a recession and times are hard. However when I went to see the Ministry of Food exhibit at the Imperial War Museum over Christmas I realised that we don’t have it all that bad. It was all about how Britain fed itself during World War Two, and gave me a lot of food for thought (har har).
It was a fascinating story about how the government organised food rationing, the Women’s Land Army and delivery of food from other countries. What struck me was the “keep calm and carry on” attitude. Of course, much of the exhibition was propaganda put out by the government, but even so you could tell that Brits truly believed in just getting on with it. Through the fourteen and a half years of rationing they grew their own food, scrimped, saved, and made sure any leftovers were covered up to save them being ruined by debris from bombs. Carrots were one of the few things that were plentiful, and they managed to prepare them in almost every way possible, from curried carrot and carrot marmalade to carrolade (a mix of carrot and swede juice).
So I will try and channel my inner 1940s land girl when next faced with a challenge, even if it is another bloody tube stike. However looking at the shopping bags littering my room, “make do and mend” is most likely a lost cause.