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The Princess of Hearts’ untimely death paid put to Killjoy Kromwell’s sexually repressed revival during the Victorian and Edwardian eras which continued to taint this nation of witty, fun living, garrulous warriors redeemed by John Cleese’s pointed satire.
Kromwell, the long-haired leader of a gang of self-righteous skinheads who ruled Britain from 1653 to 1658, sucked the life force out of British veins.
Friar Tuck was before that time: “This is grain, which any fool can eat, but for which the Lord intended a more divine means of consumption. Let us give praise to our maker and glory to his bounty by learning about… BEER!” — Prince of Thieves.
Falstaff came later: “I’ll be no longer guilty of this sin; this sanguine coward, this bed-presser, this horseback-breaker, this huge hill of flesh,—” King Henry IV, Part 1.
Friar Tuck and Falstaff are icons of raunchy merriment. As for the rest of their compatriots, they wish each other merriment even at the solemn occasion of Christ’s birthday.
The upbeat friendliness in a British public house today is not a post-colonial development either. The Anglo-Saxons established ale-houses in village homes in the 5th Century, and in 965 there were so many of them that King Edgar had to limit them to one per village by royal decree.
Kromwell rode the tide of a joyless people power, helped by Charles I’s ineptitude for which he gallantly lost his head even though there wasn’t much in it to lose.
So Killjoy Kromwell became Lord Protector and to ensure pure souls leading a good — as opposed to the good — life he closed down theatres, had boys whipped for playing football on Sundays, imprisoned people for swearing and turned Sunday into a farce. One day in every month became a compulsory fast day.
This political correctness became known as Puritanism and sensual pleasure evidence of sinning.
A feminist at heart, Kromwell ensured that women remained safe from men’s impure lust. As such, his skinheads scrubbed makeup off the faces of those women of low intelligence who thought it made them more attractive. Colorful dresses were forbidden, long black dresses, white aprons and hair hidden under a white head-dress were preferred. Their menfolk too, were in Black.
Christmas celebrations were banned — no decorative holly and the smell of a goose could get the household into serious trouble.
And goodness gracious me — there was no question of leading by example: Kromwell had long hair, drank, ate well and entertained lavishly.
The year he died, Charles II was asked to become King, and did the Brits then let their hair down and party! It lasted until buxom Queen Victoria of the tight round cheeks resurrected Kromwellian fundamentals which held the Brits in the colonies in good stead. But even then, we’re only talking of the governing class.
When the working classes weren’t getting scurvy, fighting venereal disease, singing ditties, pirating other people’s ships, looting their national treasures or in the stocks for drunkenness, they were throwing around winks and having a laugh. So this Victorian business wasn’t really true of most Brits — just the governing class.
The British even ate well, though badly. Still do — well and badly, that is. In fact better, actually, thanks to decried immigration and health concerns. Although the whiff of a curry in the colonies sent them running out into the afternoon sun with mad dogs, they lapped up their fiery vindaloos in restaurants started by immigrants they preferred in their place.
All this richness went unnoticed until Lady Diana’s fatal accident, when journalists and sociologists brought the ‘new touchy feely Britain’ into public focus. This Britain was actually as old as Britain itself but overshadowed by two stuffy periods. Lady Di released this perception trapped unchallenged in Kromwellian and Victorian stuffiness, since that’s what suited everybody, John Cleese notwithstanding. They even chose a Jimmy and a Tony for Prime Minister whose Christian names were un-Christian nicknames carried by at least half a dozen wide boys in Soho over five generations whose conversations are peppered with ‘rollies’ and ‘mercs’, mate!
Naah! The British hug, kiss muah muah, speak Estuary, use first names, dress down and their national dish is Chicken Tikkar Masalar.