Archives for category: British Culture

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A historic week for Britain approaches. The great EU referendum arrives at our doorsteps after what seems like a lifetime of painful, bad tempered and often fruitless campaigning. I shall be happy when it’s over.

The economic, scientific and artistic arguments for staying have been offered and countered vigorously, although vacuously, by the leavers, despite the voices of reason andTP 31 EU dice experience generally sitting in the Remain camp. So is there a explanation why, despite the often more solid case to remain and the majority of politicians who have held any real power in recent years telling us so, a sizeable slice of the British population intends to vote Leave?

It’s not just about the all-time-low in our trust of politicians and our apparent need to put our faith in colourful characters who have no substance and perhaps no integrity either.

The reason, is that the vote on Thursday 23rd June is intrinsically an ideological and emotional choice for many people.

Are we an insular island nation that is choosing to ‘take our ball back’ when the game gets hard? Do we no longer see the value in sharing cultures, in a smaller more varied and exciting world? Do some of us actually and truly blame the EU that Britain is no longer the land of Jeeves and Wooster, afternoon tea, leaving your front door open, street parties and standing up for the Queen’s speech? That immigration has apparently taken all of this way, as well as our jobs (although those usually being the ones we plainly feel too superior to do!)? Have we become so insecure that we actually believe that our noble culture and heritage, nurtured and built over thousands of years is really at risk from being part of a broader community…of a larger world?


Are we a forward looking country that sees its place in the world as an experienced ‘statesperson’, ‘spokesperson’ and ally of justice, battling unfairness, building a safer and more equitable world for us and everyone else in it? Do we realise that time has moved on and turning your back on the march of time doesn’t mean it stops, but rather that it just tramples you? Do we understand that to achieve the best in us and recognise or leverage the best in others, we must work as a community, as a team and improve from within not without? Do we see ourselves as shapers of the future, or happy to let others get on with it while we stay at home and perfect the art of making a damn good steak and kidney pudding?

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Before you put that cross in a box, forget your opinion of Cameron, Farage, Osborne, Gove and Corbyn. Think about who YOU are! Try to look past the transient challenges like the economic crisis of 2008, of war-fuelled migration and think to how we sent our builders to the EU in the 1980’s when our own economy tanked. Remember how our cooperation with the wider world since World War II has bought so many good things. Think big for your children – allow them to aspire to be citizens of the world not just a big fish in a small pond (one that is probably evaporating due to global warming).

The Panda chooses to ‘Remain’ and urges you all to think carefully for the future of our descendants and the increasingly smaller world that we cannot turn our back on. Think before leaping into the dark hole that the Leave campaigners have decorated at the entrance with shimmering lights and the prospect of sherry trifle for all. It will not be a soft landing.

Let’s truly be a part of this world and have our say.

Oh yes…and those under 25’s….please get out there and vote. We are relying on your untainted and unjaded optimism and your vision for the future to steer your sometimes misguided, older forbearers into a fairer, brighter, more cooperative future.

The Panda has had his say. Let the cards fall as they may.



23adTP - turkeyThe Advent Panda

23rd Dec 2015: Collecting the Turkey… ‘Gobble Gobble’!

A long time ago in a country far far away….
….before farm fresh
….before additive free
….before carbon footprints
….before ORGANIC….

We used to just toddle up to Tesco for a frozen turkey, cram it into our already bulging freezer and hope to the stars that we remember to take it out early enough for it to defrost in time for Christmas dinner. I’m sure many a family ate at 9pm having not anticipated the thawing time for their plump, now featherless friend.

Now, we set out on Christmas Eve to the local farm (that on other weekends doubtless holds a farmers’ market) to collect our completely fresh, carefully reared and very recently expired turkey in its own carry carton with roasting instructions and even a handy cooking thermometer!

We wait patiently in a queue surrounded by talkative types in designer wellies, while farm hands in santa hats try to keep us entertained with mulled wine and hot slices of their best home-cooked sausages on wooden sticks.

Mock if you will, but it beats being stuck in a supermarket till queue pondering whether to throw a packet of Polos or Juicy Fruit into your basket!


London snowmanThe Advent Panda

22nd Dec 2015: Still dreaming of a White Christmas?

Christmas snow is rare in the South East of England, despite what tradition and fiction would have us believe. The chances of you getting out there and building a snowman before tucking into your Turkey is pretty slim.

I think for the UK gamblers, the payout is dependent on a single flake of snow falling on the roof of the Met Offices in London during the 25th of December. I’m not quite sure how that works? I know they’ve got lots of equipment up there but I’m sure it doesn’t cover the WHOLE roof. I have a picture in my head of several hardy chaps in scarves and bobble hats sitting equidistantly from each other on the roof and keeping vigil for 24 hours whilst passing round large flasks of coffee. It may not snow, but its bound to be pretty chilly up there!

What are the qualifications for a professional snow spotter and what do they do for the rest of year?

I suppose it’s just another of those great Christmas mysteries…


20adTP - blottoThe Advent Panda

20th Dec 2015: Board Games or Blotto

I have a theory that on Christmas Day, families tend to fall somewhere on a spectrum which has the following extremes:

At one end are ‘the Revellers’ – the day ends with boisterous board games, fits of laughter and potentially dancing round the christmas tree to Roy Wood & Wizzard with an elderly relative.

At the other end there are the ‘Couch Hounds’ – By the evening, the kids are obsessing with their toys by the tree and the adults have collapsed, half dosing, with one eye on ‘Call the Midwife’ after several bottles of wine and large post-dinner brandies. No one’s going to make it to the table for a 4 hour game of Monopoly here folks!

I’ve had happy experiences of both. What end of the scale are you heading for this year?


14adTP - doctor & river

The Advent Panda

14th Dec 2015: It’s Christmas Time (Lord).

Since it returned to our screens in 2005, Christmas TV in the UK is now gloriously and unshakeably wedded to the Doctor Who Christmas Special.

Peter Capaldi has his second seasonal outing and having lost his faithful companion Clara, he could really do with having his wishes fulfilled by Santa. Unfortunately, that already happened last year, accompanied by the appropriate amount of running up and down corridors.

This time round, he will have to be comforted by his wife (yes wife!) River Song, played artfully as ever by Alex Kingston.

The BBC’s not giving much away, but I expect we won’t get too far into the episode before gruff Doctor 12 is River’s ’sweetie’ once again.

Anything else would be ’spoilers’!


Christmas jumpers by Russ McClintock

The Advent Panda

13th Dec 2015: We’ve got a Jumper!

You will get one.

It will not be your style or brand.
It will be at least one size too small.
Its colour will not match your eyes.
Its ‘bold’ design may stop traffic.
It will doubtless roll up over your tummy after you have stuffed yourself with Christmas dinner.
There will be photographic evidence (probably on Facebook).

A tip: If you are cooking the turkey on the 25th, put the jumper on early and do not wear an apron. There is no way to avoid the stigma of wearing it on Christmas day, but if you can splash enough Turkey juices over it – it may be so festively damaged that further humiliation is prevented.


10adTP - radio times

The Advent Panda

10th Dec 2015: Where IS that Radio Times?

Yes that bumper Christmas issue with two weeks of tv and radio crammed into one magazine. You’d think that in the age of DVR planners and catch-up tv, things have changed. However, I bet many an average household still fights over it and over who is going to circle and highlight the holiday season’s viewing.

It always amazes me that it actually survives the fortnight, although admittedly by the end, its normally coverless, dog-ended and laced with brandy butter grease stains!

The joy of opening a newly bought copy is equalled only by the sadness of reaching the last day’s tv page and knowing that you are returning to work or school imminently.


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