One of my American friends commented recently that the ‘Glorious Britain‘ souvenir shop in Heathrow is stocked to the brim with icons which don’t seem to represent anything other than England and, in reality, don’t represent any of England outside of the square mile at the heart of London. Red double decker buses, red phone boxes, Beefeaters, Big Ben, Tower Bridge, St Paul’s, the Palace of Westminster – all icons of London. So seeing the new post at Wings (where the photos are nicked from) about the new brand blitz made my head hurt.
Culture matters. It may seem like things like this are ridiculous trivialities to get upset about, but the symbols of a culture are important. It’s why kilts were outlawed in Scotland for so long, why we’re still having to fight to get the Scots language taken seriously (because language, more than anything, gives a people power). If you can reduce a culture to its most inoffensive aspects – for us, shortbread, whisky, haggis, Scottish country dancing, kilts – and then usurp even them, you can successfully eradicate a cultural identity. The first part was finished years ago, to the extent that the 2015 GE was covered by endless political cartoonists and commentators mocking us for these things.
We’re now into the second part, and here are the photos to prove it.
The icons printed on these products don’t imply Scotland’s part of a great union of countries in which each culture is respected and part of a bigger whole. They show that even the things we have managed to keep through centuries of having our culture intentionally suppressed and made as toothless and quaint as possible, all of it belongs to London.