Growing up in Sri Lanka, a former British colony, while we deplored the imperial exploitation, there was also admiration for many qualities that the British displayed, in particular the orderliness of the British general public. Specifically we marveled at the fact that the British people would spontaneously form a line whenever there was a need to get in somewhere or get something, even in the absence of railings or someone to enforce the line. One example is at the bus stop. In Sri Lanka, as the bus arrived, there would be a free-for-all as people tried to get in ahead of the others irrespective of the order in which they arrived at the bus stop. I used to wish that we would emulate the British in this regard.
I was thinking about this when I watched the chaotic scenes at Wembley stadium on Sunday when large numbers of people stormed the gates to push themselves inside to see the European Cup final against Italy, even if they had no tickets. What had happened to that legendary orderliness? Was it that it was always just a myth? Or has that sense of civic orderliness somehow disappeared over time for some reason? Or was that just a one-off due to the irrationality that extreme sports fandom can generate in some people?
Jonathan Pie has a brutal rant against the British behavior at the match and the racist reaction afterwards, decrying what he sees as the collapse of any sense of civic mindedness and the country going to hell.
Of course, Pie’s shtick is overwrought hyperbole and so he may have gone too far in his criticisms for the sake of effect. I hope he is wrong.