As the English commentariat see us…

Last week we had a number of slightly off-true if well meaning comments ( in my opinion) on our native land from the slightly embarrassed and mildly indifferent English commentariat, on its regrettable and hopefully brief return to the news agenda. Charles Moore, a rare example of a commentator who feels passionately about us, albeit on the right wing Tory side, repeated his views on David Dimbleby’s Question Time on BBC1, though Any Questions on Radio 4 passed off in much agreement, even between Eamon McCann and the Editor of the Economist, John Micklethwait. I was proud of the Londonderry audience, although Jonathan Dimbleby felt he had to cringe dreadfully to everybody over the name, poor chap. Now from Simon Jenkins, the new chairman of the National Trust, mindful of the fact that the NT flourishes in NI. An appreciative outsider, if not always politically correct in an Irish sense. But we don’t mind; his heart’s in the right place, isn’t it?

Britain’s beauties are on their mettle this year as never before. There will be queues on Wainwright’s Coast to Coast walk and on the Dorset Coast Path. From Giant’s Causeway to the White Cliffs of Dover, Britons will be seeking pleasure as far as a tank of petrol can take them. Those who claim intimacy with Paris or Rome will seek instead, perhaps for the first time, the soberer delights of Edinburgh, Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool and Bristol. Many will say, if the weather holds: “I never knew Britain was so beautiful.”

For me the charm of travelling in Britain lies not in the familiar but in the unfamiliar. It lies in the Antrim coast rather than the Cornish one, the Peak District rather than the Pen-nines. It lies in the tiny folds of Wilt-shire rather than the better-known ones of Dorset, in the heaving uplands of mid-Wales rather than the Cotswolds escarpment.

  • What on earth is Walker blethering about?

  • Secret Squirrel

    Beats me. He’s been posting nonsense all day.

  • 6 County Prod

    He just saying that Northern Ireland is a beautiful place to live even though there is a little confusion as to who actually ‘owns’ it!

    Of course, as the Aborigines say, we don’t own the land, the land owns us.

  • Turgon

    I think 6 County Prod has it about right. Brian, I always enjoy your articles but this is really just rather fluffy spin isn’t it (not that I am exactly adverse to spinning on this site: maybe I should receive a doctorate in it; Dr. Turgon?).

    You are telling us that it will all be fine and that our problems will pass. Do you believe that or are you just hoping hard? Incidentally I hope just as much as any of you that you are right but as I have repeatedly said the end of history here is some way off.

  • police irish and british

    Anyone notice that Cameron spoke about the three British families bereaved. It seemed -Crazy Though That Would Be- that although the Agreement stated that Northerners come in both British and Irish strains; that if you and join the police you (sell your soul?) and become British. Any thoughts?

  • Dec

    Jenkins should have a look at an atlas next time he fancies travelling around Britain. Hint: if you travel over the Irish Sea you’ve fucking left Britain.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Is the term Londondery not linked to the ethic cleansing of Ulster? If so – surely it is a dsigraceful term to be using in this century, if not I dont like it anyway – nor do its residents Jonathan Dimbemlby was abolsutely right to be cringing – like most educated Britishers he is aware of his country’s shocking imperilaist history in our country – and this dreadful name represents that.

  • ‘Britain’ is political newspeak for the UK so it’s hardly surprising it leaks into other domains.

  • BonarLaw


    “Jenkins should have a look at an atlas next time he fancies travelling around Britain. Hint: if you travel over the Irish Sea you’ve fucking left Britain.”

    That would be the same atlas that says you’ve left Ireland when you travel over the Irish Border.

    Aren’t you a bit long at this game for this crap?

  • Uriop


    Jenkins should have a look at an atlas next time he fancies travelling around Britain. Hint: if you travel over the Irish Sea you’ve fucking left Britain.

    Not this again. Britain is not the same thing as Great Britain. Calling Northern Ireland part of Britain is acceptable according to the OED. It’s another Derry / Londonderry. Deal with it and be tolerant of those who use the word in EITHER way. It is anything other than toleration for both uses that is politically incorrect. Neither use is geographically or linguistically incorrect.

  • T.R.O.H.V.M

    Ireland is not an Isle of Britain.

  • Brian Walker

    Turgon, No, this isn’t an argumentative post although some commenters don’t seem to think in any other way. On a week when UK national commenters have responded to our unwelcome return to the news agenda, I was just reflecting on where they place NI overall in their firmament. Usually we not not quite “us” and not quite “them,” so comment is often awkward. Catching them out on nuances used to be a favourite game. Simon Jenkins’s piece was non-Troubles but it was interesting to see how he placed NI. Would he have made the Causeway references had he not been writing as chairman of the National Trust?

  • Mike

    From the Prime Minister’s website:

    “The United Kingdom is made up of four countries: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Its full name is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

    Great Britain, however, comprises only England, Scotland and Wales. Great Britain is the largest island of the British Isles. Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic form the second largest island.

    The UK is just under 1,000 km long from the south coast of England to the extreme north of Scotland, and is 500 km across at its widest point. It shares a single land border with the Irish Republic. Despite its relatively small size the UK boasts incredibly varied and often very beautiful scenery.

    The Isle of Man and the Channel Islands are not part of the United Kingdom. They are largely self-governing with their own legislative assemblies and systems of law. But the British Government is responsible for their defence and international relations.

    On this site the term ‘Britain’ is used informally to mean the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.”

    Uriop is quite correct.

  • Even Madame Tussauds can get it wrong:

    Tony Blair – 1997: Becomes Prime Minister of Great Britain

  • Nomad

    Jeez, guys. If it’s not tribal bickering or posturing why a United Ireland will or will not happen many of you don’t want to know!? (I like those threads too). I came in here to read the rest of the post and grab the link to mail to a family member as I really liked the post. Whatever you call the place, ‘here’ is a beautiful place in the world. Let’s try and talk about it sometimes with less of the bitterness??

    Turgon: Your posts are often good, but is there a need to criticize other bloggers when they aren’t in exactly the same vein as yours?? (Clue: NI notes on politics and culture).

  • Ireland is not an Isle of Britain.)))

  • I hope just as much as any of you that you are right but as I have repeatedly said the end of history here is some way off.