The collapse of British civilization

The early part of spring was dry in Britain this year, and the winter was too. Overall, the U.K. got just 47% of its average April rainfall. Some places only got 10% of their average.

As I type this (which is sometime before I’m posting it), the weather’s turned and it’s been alternately raining, drizzling, and mizzling (that’s somewhere between mist and drizzle) for three days, but we’re still short of water. It doesn’t take long in this country for isn’t-this-wonderful weather to turn into drought, and just before the rain came the papers had begun fretting about the prospect of drought.

The earliest articles warned about the apple crop, and the plums and pears, but just before the rain came the news got serious; If this goes on, an article said, it’s going to affect whisky and beer production.

Well, holy shit, the country would be in trouble.

Vaguely related photo: The north Cornish coast, which has lots of water but it happens to be salty.

The British media has a way of cutting to the center of any issue. I was listening to a BBC report on the problems in prisons a while back. These have—no surprise here—been increasing with underfunding, understaffing, privatization, and (not to get political about it or anything) all the other joys the current (not to mention previous) government brought us.

What sort of problems were they having? I don’t remember the full list, but it included suicides and violence, so it was serious stuff. But the problem that stayed with me was that prisoners had stopped queuing.

If you’re British, I should explain that finding a list composed of suicide, violence, and not queuing will strike people from other countries as hysterically funny. And if you’re American (or any other speaker of not-British), I should probably explain: Queuing means standing in line. and queuing is Britain’s true national religion. When people stop forming queues, it’s a sign that the culture’s falling apart.

So, my friends, the situation is serious. Prisoners no longer instinctively form orderly queues. The world as we know it is crumbling, and unless the rain continues we may not even have whiskey and beer to console us.

Not that I drink anymore, but I don’t look forward to seeing in the end of the world with a bunch of very crabby people.

57 thoughts on “The collapse of British civilization

  1. I’m skiving at work so am first to comment again. And I’m going to be a Scottish pain in the bum, Ellen, again. Whisky for us. Whiskey for the Irish and Americans. Did you mean to include the Irish (we know Americans aren’t allowed into this story)? Just a question… It mizzles here too by the by.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Actually, I have no idea who I meant to include. I was riding in the tailwind of a newspaper article that didn’t specify. But then the media here tends to pretend that Ireland (especially the Republic of) only exists if it somehow makes news of its own. Even the weather reports sort of snips Ireland off the map, although you can catch the BBC there.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Well done for braving it in Cornwall like that. Just wait till no queuing (wow, got spelling right on first try!) reaching your parts. By the by, today celebrates my one friend in Cornwall. He is 45, his name is Dom and has recently bought a house by a creek (telling you this because for SURE you know him, you are even less than Slovenians, must be -1 degrees of separation!). He might be a reason (well, and beauty) that I visit you all one day. Nothing in the making yet though.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Never. But–at the other end of the sales spectrum–I have survived Klein’s on the Square (a now defunct New York store, which was always a sale). I even came away with a winter hat, although in hindsight I’d have done better if I’d let someone rip it out of my hands. It wasn’t a place where you had a lot of time to think about what you were buying.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I shared this on FB. It’d be really interesting to get to the bottom of the queuing lapse. I hope some super sociological sleuthing is done. No kidding. What’s up with that??? Sign of the impending apocalypse.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. So do the previous members of the queue mill about then, or form arrays, or perhaps huddle? Are they pressing outward or in? Have they formed a rabble, threatening to swarm the prison?
    Once the queue is lost I suspect the real fear of this melee turning into a mob lies at the heart of this issue ;)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow. So many possibilities. I hardly know where to start.

      I actually do see the worry here. It’s just that it’s so British to list not queuing right up there with death and destruction.


  5. “underfunding”…. Hmmmm, not knowing the situation, it is hard to say, but having worked as a government systems analyst for years, I tend to think it is more a case of “what on?” than “how much?”

    Back when I worked for the Minneapolis Police, we would get an annual eye-popping one line bill from public works for maintaining our fleet of squad cars. It ran well into the tens of millions and we would always ask…”uh, could you break that down into a bit more detail?”

    “No can do” was always the answer until someone (ahem..ahem) sneaked a computer tape of the budget’s detailed entries out of the archives.

    It turns out we were paying $5.60 for a gallon of gas, back when gas was around $2.40 a gallon and were paying $46 for every car wash. When the council learned of this, they agreed to issue each cop a SuperAmerica debt card and the city saved millions.

    While I am neither a fan of big government nor privatization, I am a fan of the wisdom of Dilbert which ordains that “everything that is centralized must be decentralized and everything that is decentralized must be centralized”. Substitute the word privatize for decentralized and that works too.

    Whenever any social structure is left in place too long (three generations typically), it forgets what it is all about and focuses entirely on maintaining institutional power and privilege.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, shit, I just wrote a long reply and lost it. I’ll be briefer this time. What this government and the last one have done is assert with no particular evidence that money is being wasted and demand cuts on all levels–massive ones. I’m sure there’s money that could be saved if they’d work from the bottom up, because that’s where the people who know what’s what are. But they’re not. What’s happening instead is that the systems are making desperate cuts that will, many of them, be very expensive in the long run. The system’s falling apart. The decentralization has been expensive and not to the benefit of the patients. I could go on and on but I’ll stop. I’m furious at what they’re doing, which is destroying a much-loved and important piece of the country’s infrastructure. Again, I’m sure money could be saved, but even if it were, the system would need investment desperately at this point.

      I love what you did with the charges for maintaining the squad cars. And in your last paragraph you may be on to something.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Wait, the world is ending AND we won’t have alcohol to help us through. WTF? I don’t care what happens in Britain or the other places the Scottish guy mentioned, but let’s not mess with the alcohol supply.

    Liked by 1 person

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