Once again, just two weeks after the horrendous bomb attack in Manchester, Britain last night found itself the victim of another apparent terrorist outrage. This time, the target was London. Seven people died and another forty-eight were wounded, when a white Transit van was deliberately driven at people, before three men got out and began stabbing people at random.
Yet, as horrific as this attack was, when the New York Times‘ report of the attack filtered through from the not too distant shores of America, the people of Britain were … well … outraged. Why? Because our American cousins had had the audacity to say that Britain was left “reeling” from the attacks on Manchester and London!
After someone tweeted this picture of a woman, sitting on the rubble which was once her home, calmly drinking a cup of tea during the Blitz, with the message “Dear @nytimes Please be advised, Britain doesn’t do “reeling”, Twitter was suddenly alight with ridiculous, moving, and downright hilarious tweets using the hashtag #ThingsThatLeaveBritainReeling
Taking my cue from all those lovely tweethearts in the Twittersphere, I have taken the liberty of drafting an open letter to the New York Times, informing them of the many things which can leave Britain reeling.
Dear New York Times,
With regards to your article of June 4, 2017, in which you reported on the horrendous terrorist attack in London, I feel I must take issue with your assertion that the recent terrorist incidents have left Britain “reeling”. My dear, New York Times, there are many varied, and, dare I say it, inconsequential things that have the capacity to leave Britain reeling; however, terrorism has never, and will never be, amongst them.
Without a doubt, we Brits are a hardy lot. We stood, stoic and defiant, against the Nazi bombing campaign which struck London and other cities for a total of 8 months and 4 days between 1940 – 1941 (London was systematically hit for 56 consecutive days!). We smiled in the face of the IRA, UDA, UFF, and others who sought to push their agenda with bombs and violence for over 30 years. And now, we laugh at those total numpties who seek to try and change our way of life with bombs, knives and cars.
That being said, there are things which we absolutely cannot abide, things that do indeed, leave us reeling. Take for example our utter consternation when we, in an act of daring bravado, move from a long queue to a shorter queue, only to find the shorter queue takes even longer because Mrs I Couldn’t-Do-This-Slower-If-I-Tried from Number 42 insists on packing her shopping before getting her purse out to pay. Even this, though, pales into insignificance at the sight of someone with 11 items, standing in the 10 items or less queue!
And on the subject of shopping, we become positively incandescent when we have just paid full price for an item, only to find that it is on sale for half the price in the very next shop. We find ourselves standing there, wrestling with our conscience over whether we have the nerve to go back into the shop, make some excuse as to why we have to return the item and get our money back, and then go and buy it on sale, or whether we just bite the bullet and bemoan our bad luck over a cup of tea.
Then there is the embarrassment felt when someone holds multiple sets of doors open for you and you discover that your vocabulary is deficient in words of gratitude. And on the subject of doors, we struggle to maintain our composure when someone holds the door open for us, but we are slightly too far away at the time and so, we feel compelled to jog a couple of steps rather than leave them waiting.
Driving too can grate our gears, especially when someone has the audacity not to even acknowledge you when you stop to let them out in front of you. At that moment, my dear New York Times, our legendary politeness goes out of the window and we spend the remainder of the day not letting anyone come out in front us, because we couldn’t take the monumental rage if a second person failed to thank us!
Our equanimity is most definitely disturbed when we make someone a cup a tea and they forget to drink it, but even this does not compare to the horror of finding you only have one teabag left just as the family pay a surprise visit.
I’m afraid that you too, our dear American cousins, play your part in our loss of placidity, especially when you attempt to pronounce words such as “Edinburgh”. Please, for the sake of our sangfroid, may I tell you once and for all that it is pronounced “Ed-in-bruh” and not “Ed-in-burrow”.
So you see, my dear New York Times, there are many things which leave us Brits reeling, but terrorism has never been, nor will it ever be, one of them.
The People of Britain