I haven’t contributed hardly anything to this blog, for quite a long time. But the concept of Great’ has exercised my contemplative moments recently; specifically the ‘Great’ in Great Britain.
I have for long been irritated when I hear any of my countrymen (and they do indeed mostly happen to be men, so no real need to be PC and slot in ‘or countrywomen’), suggest that we are worthy of the epithet ‘Great’ we prefix to our nation, Britain. Be assertive, positive, confident, even downright pompous, but we can never claim as a Nation or as individual citizens, to be any greater than non-British.
Despite having kicked off this train of thought, I feel this post would end up being unreadably long, not to mention quite irritating and, of course, less than a ‘great’ essay.
So let me turn 360 degrees and quote two examples of where I DO think Britain produces something truly Great and the like of which I have not witnessed in any other country: the great Brotish TV Documentary, especially when coupled with self deprecating humorous commentary. I have just watched two documentaries I fortunately had the foresight to record. The first is BBC’s ‘Full Steam Ahead’, mainly about the importance of Steam engine technology to Britain’s economic and social development more than a hundred years ago. The second is the series ‘Slow Train through Africa’, as most entertainingly presented by the Welsh (undeniably part of Great Britain) humourist, Griff Rhys Jones. This particular documentary is not even one produced by that ‘Great’ British institution, the BBC, but by its British commercial television network, ITV! Now, here’s the rub, if you are unfortunate enough (in this particular instance) not to live in Great Britain, or probably even the geographically slight wider flung UK, you may never be able to enjoy these, and the many other Great British Tv Productions – unless, of course, your own national TV network providers had the perspicacity to invest in such gems of the Great British Television product industry! But, then again, whist these are Great productions, it does not suggest for a moment that other non-(Great) British producers do or produce their own Great productions!
Our saving grace, it has just occurred to me, is that we don’t tend (in my experience) to ever call ourselves THE Greatest! So maybe, we (Great?) Brits ain’t so bad after all. Let me end with dedicating this post to THE Greatest- Mohamed Ali, who, for all his faults (which all of us are blessed with, as part of our basic human nature, but to varying degrees), in my opinion was a truly Great individual, recognised by so many admirers thought the world. I for one, never begrudged his calling himself The Greatest. This was at least true within the realm of his boxing profession. Beyond that, though, he was a Great man. RIP