Who’s to blame?

Well, the trip to the Dales didn’t work out quite as planned. We ended up having our picnic in the car with the windows steamed up. Outisde, the wind and rain buffeted our rented Seat Ibiza. We did get down to the river for 20 minutes between showers but it was a lot of driving for not much return. It did take me back to my paragliding days in the Dales. There would be three or four of stuck in a car on a rainswept hillside trying to convince ourselves that “it’ll clear up later”. No worries – we were less ambitious yesterday and went on a short trip to Harrogate. We didn’t get wet, did some succesful shopping and had a delicious pub lunch. Ende gut, Alles gut – as they say in Germany.

Later on we had a fantastic Indian Takeaway at my Mum’s house (special request from Ariane because you can’t really get decent Indian food in Germany) and, as ever, I ordered far too much. Has anyone ever ordered just the right amount of Indian food? I vaguely remember reading that the curry has overtaken fish and chips as the most popular dish in Britain and this got me thinking about food, immigration and blame.

The first thing I read in the paper this morning was that Britain was about to top the obesity rankings in Europe and would be well in front by 2025. The second paragraph quoted the authors of the report as saying the blame lay with the Government. The Government should be taxing unhealthy foods to a much higher degree. Hmmm. Last week the papers had been full of articles complaining about the “Nanny State” after it was announced that a sugar tax would finally be introduced. It might just be me getting older, but the “blame culture” really does seem to be doing well in Britain. Isn’t it just a case of “we are all to blame so we’d better pull ourselves together?”.

In general, I think that the kneejerk reaction of immediately blaming the Government is less prevalent in Germany. It may have something to do with the collective shame and the fact that the country had no choice but to “pull itself together” after the war. It also means that the Germans spend more time looking forward than looking back. That’s pretty understandable. In England I’d say it’s now the opposite. And there is always somebody to blame… the Scots blame the English, the English blame Westminster and Westminster blames the EU.

So who do the Germans blame? Considering what has happened in the last 25 years – the peaceful absorbtion of a bankrupt communist state, or the apparent absorbtion of nearly one million migrants last year – you’d think they’d have plenty of people to blame. But on the other hand, Germans do not want to be seen blaming any external group as they are acutely aware that the world is watching for any sign of stirring “right-wing” tendencies. The political system, and the media, are hyper-sensitive to any indication that racism might be on the rise. Schoolchildren are left in no doubt as to who were the bad guys.

You could also argue that because Germany is such a power within the Europe, that of course they can’t blame the EU. But, as I have written before, most normal Germans think the EU is a bit of a pain in the backside really and don’t sit worship it as the Telegraph would have you believe. Whatever the reason, there is certainly less of a blame culture and more of a feeling of personal responsibility here. I think that’s a good thing. I wouldn’t have really noticed it normally, but I’ve just been watching TV in England for a week and the contrast was striking.

Sorry for the serious tone today – more jokes tomorrow, promise.

Bis morgen.

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