This is actually a mindset of emotional repression caused by the inherent class system which uses alcohol and a trip to the pub as it’s let off valve. The sports of Football and boxing are also used by men to let off steam, with cricket traditionally being played by gentlemen and rugby being the sport for gentlemen but played by ruffians. Tennis was a much more genteel sport with polo, croquet or bowls definitely for the upper classes as they had time to indulge in leisure activities. Racing whether it be horses or dogs was for lower class gentlemen just like darts is today. Even this delineation smacks of the true division that is still ever present in our society. These are all masculine activities those are women were expected to be barefoot and pregnant as the saying went.
The self deprecating attitude traditionally associated with the English is perplexing to foreigners. We are always putting ourselves down, thinking we are not good enough. We are always complaining amongst ourselves but never to those in authority as we don’t wish to upset the apple cart. We can’t have ideas above our station after all.
We are always queuing waiting for our turn quietly obeying the laws of the land but we are also always gossiping about others who dare to do something different. It is such a scandal when someone does something that doesn’t fit with the status quo. Those that dare to be different though make the most of there lives by breaking out of the stuffy container that we have made for ourselves.
Lord Byron, Oscar Wilde, the Bloomsbury group, the Pre Raphealites these were all people who were bohemian that believed the world could be a better place through art and music. They lived a hedonistic lifestyle but they could afford too as they were commonly part of the landed gentry. They could afford to live eccentric lifestyles travelling abroad and living in grand houses attended by many servants. This is harking back to Roman times but more often I think it was a nod to a romantic notion that we all in the UK entertain about life in Ancient Greece. If you think about it we are still ruled over by an Anglo Greek alliance through Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip.
So in a way you could say we are all striving for something better in our lives while remaining exactly where we are as we have internalised the fact that the class we were born into is the one we will die in. If we achieve a meteoric rise some how then we are frequently brought back down to Earth again abruptly like Anne Boleyn was only not quite so dramatically.
The crab bucket effect is very much part of our lives along with the keeping up with the Jones idea. For those who are not English this is the constant fight to maintain the appearance that you are a heterosexual married couple who are middle class with a good job, car, well maintained house with 2 well behaved children. This idea is a complete fallacy but it’s what we all learn from our environment as what we need to aspire to. If we have not managed to achieve this by age 30 we are somehow incomplete and there is something wrong with us.
With this break from normalcy we should all new values to creep in to replace the old ones which didn’t serve us. You may have noticed that all of the individuals I mentioned earlier were not only artists but engaged in different sexual identities. There gender representation was also different from the norm. This has been so against what society has said was acceptable for so long that we have lost some of our greatest minds like Alan Turing through this ignorance. We need to allow all forms of expression for we are all human at the end of the day. If we are much kinder and welcoming of those that present differently, think how much creativity and intellect will be saved. We will be living in a better world for all concerned.