How did the English ever run an empire?

This question has almightily puzzled me for many a long year and it is always enhanced when I visit that strange little country. Don’t get me wrong; I have for some strange reason an increasing number of English friends whom I love dearly, but in this case the parts are definitely more appealing than the whole. Most recently, it came up once again with the snow that has fallen there. A few snowflakes appear and the roads are closed, trains cease running, airports come to a standstill, people can hardly get to work, the government ponders an inquiry into dealing with that fluffy white stuff … WTF! In Oslo, I left in early November during a snowstorm. No worries: snow ploughs were out, planes were de-iced, runways cleared, winter tyres were on, cross-country skis came out, people enjoyed a crisp turn – in short, life went on as normal. So too in Canada when I was there a couple of decades ago. But England; no, complete chaos with the hint of cold weather and a little snow. So did they ever manage to run an empire?

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15 thoughts on “How did the English ever run an empire?

  1. Amusingly enough there are actually places here in Canada where something similar happens when the snow falls. Vancouver is famous for shutting down after a light dusting. The rest of us mock them for it :). In all seriousness, though, the cities that are paralyzed by snow here usually blame it on budget and infrastructure problems. They are so unprepared for snow that they don’t have the equipment, staff, or money to do anything about it. I suspect the same is true of London. Still funny to watch though.

    1. Someone did say that once upon a time the poms, as we call them at times, have cut back all those unnecessary public services such as snow clearing, efficiency and so on, redirecting those funds to tax cuts for the very deserving rich (for they work so hard and therefore need to be rewarded).

  2. Budget is a big thing here in Vancouver but another thing amusing to those of us who have relocated here is that many people don’t know how to drive in the snow. Generally, people don’t seem to employ winters tires and when you add that to a lack of experience the streets rapidly turn into a bout of bumper cars whenever we get dumped on.

    Also, a lot of the buses are “green” and run on lines, which always come down when it snows. On those days, you can end up waiting 2.5hrs for a cab.

    You should come back to Canada, I’ll show you around.

  3. The empire was created by the non-wussie English folk who were looking for some good emigration options to get away from all the light weights back in jolly olde England.

    1. Especialy for those annoying Irish, who seemed to be so ungrateful for the benevolent English rule and kept on revolting. Australia was in its earlier days (ie, before most immigrants came form other areas, like my parents) called Ireland’s revenge on England.

  4. We (and I use that term advisedly) usually got a bunch of foreign thugs to do it for us, Roland; just a few English officers to keep them in line. Of course occasionally they mutinied and slaughtered all the “ruperts” (and the Irish/Scots/Welsh/Yorkshire peasants with them), but then we just got another bunch of thugs to kick the shit out of them as an object lesson to all of the others. (You know I am surprised the Americans decided to occupy Afghanistan; if they’d just occupied a tiny bit of it with bombers and pounded the rest of it occasionally, it would have been a damn sght more effective than the current version – didn’t they ever read about the English being massacred and revenge of the Army of the Indus?!)

    But now when we are an empire no more and can’t even afford planes to fly of our carriers (when they are built), when we get in bed with the French on nuclear issues (damn those Germans!), when we have seventeen ships to patrol the world, and when we still think our dick is a foot long, we are shown to be the pissants we truly are by a bit of snow.

    Man, the English would be funny if we weren’t such a tragic case of empire enabling!

    1. Although they do say in the US that the face of their army is Mexican and black. But empires do seem to undertake stupid, stupid tasks, like Afghantistan. Have the yanks not heard of the fate of the English and then the Russians? The real challenge to Afghanistan would be to leave it to its own devices, since it has for centuries been on a guerilla footing to fight one invader after another. Another invasion simply keeps the status quo.

      1. I do love the bit in First Blood, Part III, where Colonel Trautman gives his speech about the unbeatable Afghans and their long history of thrashing the invader. Shame that film was out at Blockbusters when Bush II was deciding to invade!

  5. I’m not even sure that Bush watches films, let alone knows what the written word is. But then he is far more intelligent that Sarah Palin. What a light on the hill to all those democracies throughout the world.

  6. don’t forget they are bishop blessed ploughs in England. And don’t let the ‘true blooded white Englishman’ see this – he’ll start telling you isn’t wasn’t always chaotic. It’s the ‘bloody immigrants’ – like me. I’m leaving as soon as I’m fit and able…

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