Is the cult of the individual eating society alive?

Adam Tinworth
Adam Tinworth

Still, Iain has highlighted something my wife and I have whiled away
many hour discussing. When did the British get so anti-social. Once the
stereotype of Brits abroad was of painfully polite, post-Imperial
types. Now we have the sex’n’lager image that has replaced the football
hooligans of a decade ago. Frankly, it’s reaching the point where I’m
ashamed to call myself British. Once my reaction to the story of the British family arrested in Greece would have been outrage at the way they were treated. Now it’s suspicion about the way they were behaving.

The problem hit home to me early last year as my wife, my
mother-in-law and I caught a taxi home from a party in a Bristol city
centre hotel. The taxi passed through the main drinking area, and
people were literally throwing themselves on the bonnet of the car to
try and force it to stop and pick them up. The whole square was a mass
of drunkenness, vomit and semi-nakedness. Frankly, I was scared. The
taxi driver told us, with deep resignation in his voice, that this was
a normal Saturday night for him. Brave man. Last night, my
mother-in-law’s car was pelted with stones as she drove home, thrown by
youths who had decided that the best way to celebrate the heatwave was
to spend the day drinking themselves stupid.

It appears that, increasingly, the most important right in British
society is the right to have fun exactly the way you want to have it,
and the hang the consequences to anyone else. The recent brouhaha about
the parties on Newquay beach is yet another example of this.

The rights of the individual are important. It’s a pity too many
people are just too stupid to realise that you have to protect the
rights of others as you exercise your own right to enjoy yourself. It’s
common courtesy. It’s politeness. It’s society.


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Adam is a lecturer, trainer and writer. He's been a blogger for over 20 years, and a journalist for more than 30. He lectures on audience strategy and engagement at City, University of London.