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Monday, March 06, 2006


Crème Eggs; or, How do you eat your Britishness?

In a moment of sudden reflection, it seemed utterly odd. Crème Eggs are sold as icons of Britishness, their sale and consumption an annual event that unites people across Britain and nowhere else. Odd, both on the basis of that bare fact, and the simple truth that follows; Crème Eggs are more a symbol of any special Britishness than football or cricket, trade unionism or free markets, binge drinking or non-conformist temperance, democracy or the monarchy. These are all found elsewhere, and find their equally British contradictory conditions. But Crème Eggs, well, their manufacture, and characteristically British uncodified but nevertheless ritual consumption is contained within the boundaries of Britain, and there is no antagonistic and yet equally British tradition.

So, if we must engage in the absurd debate on ‘Britishness’ (see here and here), then dump the wishful thinking that suggests that a particular ideological or political tradition is peculiarly British. They are patently not, and exercises which seek to make them so are nationalistic exercises in exclusion by definition of the other as foreign. If we must, let us celebrate those little things which are British, which do not exclude, and, despite being a little too sweet for many palates, are enjoyable treats on an annual basis.

So are Creme Eggs the last thing the British can define themselves over? Is it the only thing they are allowed by the PC establishment to feel proud about?
TC, do you really think that there is such thing as a 'PC establishment'? The best selling newspapers in Britain are right-wing, some crudely and xenophobically so. The Government, despite being called 'Labour', is right-wing, and the opposition are the Conservatives.

I used the example of Creme Eggs because, first, they are peculiar to Britian, and second, because they do not exclude great swathes of the population.

I, for example, can profess be proud of the British history of trade unionism. But I cannot define that as Britishness as, first, many other countries have a history of trade unionism and second, beacuse there are significant contradictory strands in British history.

This is why I suggested in my earlier posts that attempts to define Britishness were; [1] about as un-British as you can get (almost anti-British), [2] are exercises in excluding undesirables who may be British, and [3] a spurious linkage of one's own political convictions to the power of nationalism. Therefore I suggested that for a decent person to enjoin in this debate, except to point out either the absurdity or the wickedness of those taking part.

And then I thought that to engage in the absurdity was the best option - the illustrate that it can ONLY be the little things that unite us and make us especially British - the big things are either the subject of contradictory trends within Britain or are so nebulous and universal to have little special connection to Britain.
The "PC establishment" is the biggest Straw Man in the world.
Hey, at least it's one step on, etymologically speaking, from the "PC Brigade", which always makes me think of zealous people in silly uniforms, probably with hats and badges. Or is that the Girls' Brigade?
Hey, don't get started on uniforms. Tempting as they might be, it'd just reinforce the twisted logic that has an attempt to combat racism and inequality as some kind of fascistic plot.
Crème Eggs are sold as icons of Britishness, their sale and consumption an annual event that unites people across Britain and nowhere else.

“Nowhere else?” I hate to say this but I think we have them in the US too. What exactly are these Creme Eggs?

despite being a little too sweet for many palates, are enjoyable treats on an annual basis.

If “annual basis” refers to Easter, your eggs sound suspiciously like a product that is ubiquitously available in the US around that holiday. If you would provide me with a more detailed description, I’d be happy to let you know for certain.

It’s an elegant theory you’ve got, but I know you wouldn’t want to waste time developing it - putting all your eggs in the one basket, so to speak- if your premises are erroneous. Should that be the case, I wouldn’t be discouraged. I’m confident you'll find your “symbol of ... special Britishness” eventually. In the interim, “Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash” should be more than adequate for your purposes.
If you are suggesting that a Creme Egg is the same thing as an Easter Eggs then you are quite wrong.

If you need more info on what a Creme Egg is then you are clearly not British. Which lends weight to my case.
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