I don’t want to offend anybody. I hate stereotypes so I’m talking from personal experiences, one of which has just triggered this post.
Why is it that anybody who acts in an official capacity of some sort in England becomes the most inflexible, fear-infused droid? “I wish I could help” they say when it’s clear they could if they tried, but “I don’t want to get into trouble”. Like, what trouble? I’ve heard this about things where the biggest trouble could be somebody maybe raising an eyebrow…
But paranoia and the resulting micro-management seems to underpin all parts of life. “Fire door, do not close” on almost every door, those blue/red/green plastic plates with all kinds of warnings everywhere, often 2-3 of them, with step-by-step small-print instructions in the pool, for example.
I visited at a college where I had used to study and I needed a place to crash for a few night. My Indian friend let me sleep in his room as a matter-of-fact kindness to an old friend. The only English guy on the floor had a little talk with me the following day (which I customarily ignored).
Random international student arrives for her final year at uni after traveling for almost 2 days. Receptionist goes like, your key is missing from your welcome pack, “you’ll have to find a hotel” followed by the mandatory “sorry, I can’t do anything, I don’t wanna get into trouble” of course. It’s past midnight and the uni campus is 20 miles from the first city with a hotel. She’s a returning student (final year, remember?) with a government scholarship—could she be less suspicious? But no, rules are rules, and who-knows-what-will-happen if the guy uses his own judgment.
One of my colleges reported me to the big boss for something he thought was suspicious about me – and this was a guy who knew me through a mutual friend from well before I started working there! What the actual f*ck…
Now, my immediate boss was Scottish. He was one of the chillest guys at the place (though the other one was English, so I did see great exceptions). Not much to generalize off of, but it does seem things may be different up North.
Cameras are everywhere and people love them. “It’s for our own good and, besides, I don’t have anything to hide… Do you?!” Wanna be private about anything at work? SUSPICIOUS! Your life belong to us, it seems the idea is. That was new for me because things aren’t like that where I am.
I’m seriously, honestly curious (as in, I’ve been thinking about this on and off for years) when this started and how. It must’ve happened over the past few decades because Britain wouldn’t have lived through WWII with the same attitude, full of fear and with a complete lack of individual judgment about situations. That bastard Churchill must be rolling in his grave—though he does deserve it, and some more (just check his role in mass-starvation in India). Anybody with an answer?