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" Live out of your imagination

not your history "

Stephen R. Covey

On the Peculiarities of Britishness

December 30th, 2008

Because we are an island of four languages – English, Welsh, Scottish and Gaelic – we have made communication our greatest achievement. We dislike the arts of display, we took hundreds of years to learn to make music and paint, but our writers have produced the world’s greatest literature.

Because we also love understatement, we do not glorify these writers. Here is a trivia question: where is the public statue of Shakespeare in London? There is only one, on the Albert Memorial, where the Bard sits at the feet of Homer. The greatest writer in the world and we put him beneath a long dead Greek…

Reduced, after an age of empire, to our own island, Britain’s advantages continue, and with them, an awareness that we have had throughout our history: that the only way for the British to continue to thrive is to get on with others. That is why the greatest British fear, that of offending someone, really matters.

Ronald Hutton, Professor of History Bristol University

From an article in The Times viewable online here.