Sunday, 11 July 2010

WW1 project - a worthy endeavour from VRT

I had dinner with a Belgian policeman a little while ago - he is a nice guy, and it was very interesting. The Belgian plod are generally very good, and they do concentrate on dealing with crime, unlike the British police who seem to exist for the sole purposes of policing bus lanes, and harrassing drivers on motorways. (Having said that, I was actually threatened with arrest for jaywalking in Brussels a couple of months ago. The fact that I could not stop laughing at being chastised by a policeman clutching 2 bags of groceries, and the stupidity of having to wait for a green man at a time when there was no traffic on the road, probably did not weigh in my favour. But I got away with a warning.)

My policeman chum was bit cynical about my knowledge of Flanders, and was trying to wind me up, albeit in a friendly way. "I bet you never heard of Flanders until you came here.." he suggested. I assured him that I had, but he didn't really believe me. "I know about England, but what do you know about Flanders?" he asked with a sneer.

The British resolve slipped a tad at this point...

"My Great-Grandfather is buried in Flanders" I told him. "Unlike some I could mention, he fought and died for Belgium, and it wasn't even his country"

It was the ultimate  shut the f*ck up moment.

Although they didn't really take part in it themselves, the Belgians are very respectful about the victims of the Great War - probably more so than younger generations of Brits are. The Belgian broadcaster VRT is running an interesting project, and I think it might be worth bookmarking and following, as it provides the opportunity for folk with first-hand experiences to post thier thoughts. There will be sadly few of those, but I suspect they will be fascinating, and worth preserving.

Find it here....


  1. Being threatened for arrest for jay walking has to be one of the best reasons for not being part of the EU.

    We Brits like to do what we want, and no-ones going to tell us where we can walk and where we can't!

    Yes Holland, we like your tulips and France your cheeses are yummmy, and yes we'll trade with you, but if you expect the average Brit to accept being chastised by a policeman for crossing the middle of an empty road then I bet you know what the response from the average Brit will be.

    "F*ck me, are you having a laugh or what ... I'll cross the f*cking road where I like".

    This folks, epitomises the difference between the British and the rest of Europe.

    We like our independence, and having the freedom to risk life and limb to get to the pub before closing time.

    Daft? Yes we know. But freedom to us is being allowed to being just that. Take that away and you take away the essence of being British.

  2. In recent years the UK has become obsessed with Anti-Social behaviour. Strangey, Jay Walking is not considered one of them.

    I wonder if this will change.

    Common sense, dictates that it should, to some extent.

    However,I cannot see the British Police being willing to chastise everyone seen walking across the middle of the road and directing them to the little green man crossing. They have more important things to do; like fighting crime.

    Whilst the rest of Europe seems quite ready and willing to submit to laws like this and authority in general the Britsh are not.

    That if the laws, rules, regulations are considered daft or unreasonable in our eyes.

    This unwillingness to submit to authority is reflected in many British citizens being highly suspicious and angry at being 'dictated to' as they see it by the EU.

    There is enough trouble getting the British to subject to their own Parliament's laws, without expecting them to submit to 'those people overseas who don't know what they are talking about' laws.

    Yes, European Parliamentarians, your decisions in the UK are largely regarded as useless, silly, unneccessary and down right unfair.

    The EU is the Big Brother you love to hate.

    Just as the housemates in 'Big Brother' rebel against all the rules of the house, so we Brits want to rebel against you, the EU.

    "Who are you telling us what we can and cannot do in our own country!"

    We Brits take great delight in breaking laws which we consider silly, unfair or unjust.
    I suspect Jay Walking would be one of them.

  3. Although it is not in the highway code, here in the UK it is considered 'only good manners' to stop if you see a pedestrian waiting to cross the road.

    To see an elderly person or a mum with 2 small children and a buggy standing by the kerb waiting to cross the road and you the driver not stopping to let them cross is considered by the British rather mean and inconsiderate.

    Good manners, when travelling in your car are considered essential.

    How different to Europe where on cruises, being met on land by local guides in France, Italy,Madeira and Portugal we are all escorted across the road like school children. The guide who does not trust us to cross the road by ourselves." You English people just cross anywhere you like. It is dangerous. They drive fast here, and will not stop! They have heard of our drivers considerate stopping for pedestrians. They think we are a bit loopy.

    Perhaps our consideration for pedestrians is one of the reasons we don't, unlike the rest of Europe need Jay Walking to be considered anti-social.

    Most British drivers are considerate to the needs of pedestrians.

  4. Unfortunately, in the UK one doesn't hear much in the media about the 1st World War, only Hitler and the 2nd World War, so young people are pretty ignorant about the events leading up to World War One.

    Some people here dub the 'History' Channel as the Hitler channel, there is so much information about Hitler.

    Obviously, it is good that youngsters are presented with the atrocities committed in Nazi Germany, but as with everything in life, there must be a balance.

    Time to hear more about the Great War,although I suspect if you asked the average Brit what they knew about the Great War, they wouldn't know what you were talking about!

    Let us hope that television companies in Europe are willing and eager to exchange documentarys about the 1st World War, especially to hear the anecdotes of the 2nd generation of survivors of WW1 who can give us an insight into their relatives experiences.