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Why it’s time to smile and look on the bright side of Britain

PUBLISHED: 09:32 22 December 2017

Flying the flag: We have so much to be quietly thankful for about British life, says Nick Conrad.

Flying the flag: We have so much to be quietly thankful for about British life, says Nick Conrad.

Archant

It’s time to smile and be upbeat, says Nick Conrad. And Christmas is a fine time of year to do it.

Britain needs Christmas more than ever and we should adopt a national resolution to be more positive!

I sense a communal yearning for a reason to be upbeat and optimistic – so Christmas really has popped up at the right time. Usually the festive season creeps up on me. However, this year I’ve been longing for this wave of goodwill to wash over our country. Brexit, wider political uncertainty, the economy and many other ‘pressures’ we face can be deflating so a festive break offers some respite. But cheer up, there is so much more to celebrate rather than to concern us.

I struggle to accept the notion that Britain is ‘going to the dogs’ or the overtly-negative commentary of various media outlets. Travel the world and you’ll see we have infrastructure, a democracy and a society to be tremendously proud of. So, naysayers - stop verbally trashing our national prospects. This column is not about politics; I most certainly don’t take lightly the sizable problems we currently face. But cast away pessimism and you can only conclude that we still inhabit the most stunning Isle. No? Where else would you rather be and would your lot be better? The utopian, rose-tinted perception of life overseas, in reality, seldom offers a real escape from the status quo.

I accept too much overt patriotism can lead to a national blindness, a mental state in which the populous fails to honestly evaluate the ‘state of their nation’ fabricating an undeserving lofty status. But where we once blindly adored Britannia, now the social default mode is to habitually run down what it’s like to live in modern-day Britain. Frankly, we should at least try to see the bright side.

According to research, undertaken a few years ago, England is the least upbeat nation in Europe. Twenty per cent blamed a ‘broken society’ for their lack of positivity while half said they had been more optimistic in the past, citing the 1990s. The survey, which questioned nearly 6,000 adults in nine European countries including Scotland, Wales and The Republic of Ireland, found that The Netherlands boosted the most positive continental compatriots.

One in four English adults said ‘political correctness’ had left them feeling ashamed to be English, whilst forty per cent said they felt England had completely lost its national identity. It’s important to point out that this study was pre-Brexit and I’d suggest the result would be different now.

I’m not for one moment advocating a return of the all-conquering ’rule Britannia’ – however the ‘cool on Britannia’ is such a shame. It would be lovely to think we could lift this ‘national gloom’ which has rolled in like a sea mist. What frustrates me is that there is so much to be positive about! I can hardly believe, or take seriously, how dispirited some appear.

I absolutely acknowledge the very real hardship many face and lend my voice in suggesting our focus should always be helping those in need. But we do, at least, live in a country where there is a genuine concern about the hardship of others. Take the fantastic Salvation Army’s Toys & Tins appeal as a perfect example. The good people of Norfolk coming together to ensure children and families across our county don’t go without this Christmas. For those who suggest charitable organisations like this should have to exist – they always have in all social structures regardless of wealth.

In a recent conversation, I was perplexed as a woman whose life was saved by wonderful NHS care, wanted only to moan about the hospital car park. The fact she’s was nit-picking might appear obtuse. What I found curious is why she was so publically revelling in her venom, yet giving only lip service to the fact that the NHS had saved her life.

I welcome Christmas as it gives us an opportunity to be positive. I think it allows us to celebrate and foster a much needed sense of unity. I will also accept the cries of hypocrisy to this column; after all, it is the mediawhich so often drives the negativity. However, we have so many reasons to rejoice, being British is one. I’ve travelled all over the world – life often is compared to a ‘race’, if you subscribe to this notion in being born British, you’ve already won.

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