Travel Tales

England - Alice in Wonderland's Dignity

Travel Tale - No. 6 - Vol. 2

AlinkaSince I have family in England, I have visited this rainy, delightful country dozens of times, stopping off in London to shop, do research and springboard north to Scotland to visit my Lindsay clan.

I can't think of England without looking at my collection of English bone china teapots and remember the pungent scent of the yellow daffodils in the parks while listening to Andrew Lloyd Webber; or ponder on their rich history and tremendous contribution to the world of literature with authors such as: Shakespeare, (Romeo and Juliet,) Jane Austin, (Pride and Prejudice,) Lewis Carroll, (Alice In Wonderland,) Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, (Sherlock Holmes,) Poet Alexander Pope; Charlotte Bronte, (Jane Eyre,) romantic Lord Byron; Joanne Kathleen Rowling, (Harry Potter,) W. Somerset Maugham, (Of Human Bondage;) and countless other fantastic writers which, alas, space prohibits me from mentioning.


I'll never forget the time I drove a car for hire on the left side of the road through treacherous London streets. My husband turned white after I ended up on the wrong side of a turnabout onto the path of an oncoming lorry. He said he would take a taxi if I did not relinquish the wheel to him forthwith! But when he got to another roundabout in the verdant countryside and got lost, I told him that I'd rather ride the cow staring at us, than continue for hours in a car without air conditioning. By the time we found the hotel we were not on speaking terms, but we did arrive alive!

At its zenith, the British Empire stretched over one-fourth of the globe. The first half of the 20th century witnessed its strength depleted with two world wars, and the second half, saw the dismantling of its empire; and later its rebuilding into a modern and prosperous nation. To think that Hitler called England "a nation of shopkeepers."

They showed him!

England is slightly smaller than Oregon. It is 71.6% Christian, comprising of Anglican, Roman Catholic, Presbyterian and Methodist. 2.7% Muslim, 1% Hindu, and 23% unspecified religions. It has 47 boroughs and 36 counties, and many dependent areas such as: Anguilla, Bermuda, British Indian Ocean Territory, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Is., Falkland Is., Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey, Isle of Man, Montserrat, Pitcairn Is., Saint Helena and Ascension, South Georgia, The Sandwich Is., Turks and Caicos Is.

England has existed as a unified entity since the 10th century; its union with Wales begun in 1284. In the Act of Union in 1707 it agreed to join Scotland. The legislative union with Ireland was implemented in 1801. The Anglo-Irish treaty of 1921 formalized a partition with Ireland. Six northern Irish counties remained part of the United Kingdom, as Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom of Great Britain, which was formally adopted in 1927.

Their legal system is based on early Roman law and common law traditions. It uses judicial reviews of Acts of Parliament and the Human Rights Act of 1998. The chief of state has been Queen Elizabeth II, since 1952. The heir apparent is Prince Charles, born on November 14, 1948. And the head of their government is Prime Minister Anthony Blair, since May 2, 1997.

England's political parties are: Conservative and Unionist Party, Democratic Unionist Party, Labor Party, Liberal Democrats, Party of Wales, Scottish National Party, Sinn Fein, Social Democratic and Labor Party, and Ulster Unionist Party.

The Union Jack consists of the red cross of St. George, patron saint of England, blue cross of St. Patrick of Ireland, and white diagonal cross of St. Andrew of Scotland. The blue ensign has been the basis for a number of other Commonwealth countries' flags.

The UK is a leading trading power and financial center. Over the past two decades the government has greatly reduced public ownership and contained the growth of social welfare programs. Their economy is one of the strongest in Europe. British critics state that due to its good economy there is no need to join the European Economic and Monetary Union (EMU.) And the majority of citizens still oppose the euro. Due to the government's spending for education, transport, and health services, taxes have increased.

I would be remiss if I did not mention great English exports like The Beatles, Elton John, Roger Moore, The Spice Girls, soccer player Beckham, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Cadbury's Chocolates, Bovril, Players, Winston Churchill, and Royal Albert China; and too many other wonderful English things to mention here. However, I can do without the antiquated and superfluous monarchy, which I find totally ridiculous, but then I speak as a colonist and Scot.

Alinka at Barbara Cartland book signing
The late author, Barbara Cartland and the present author Alinka as a brunette.

I must admit English cooking is not my favorite, and I do find their personalities a little dry, but if I had to choose people to live with on a deserted island, I would choose the Brits because I could depend on them, they have good organizational skills, are honest, play a good game of field hockey, and they exhibit common sense; but best of all, make a great cup of tea, in a china teapot of course. I think one of their best creations was cutting off their trousers to invent Bermuda shorts, which, in this climate, I live in. I write about some of their idiosyncrasies in MURDER BY ROSES.

If there is one thing that stands out in my mind the most, it is the English character based on integrity and dignity, which was the foundation stone that led to the building of this nation.

 

Alinka

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