As with last weeks article, this week's is split into three sections because
I've received a few requests. This week, I'm going to talk about racism, "private
fields", and popular drinks.
I've received two requests to talk about racism in Britain because it
seems to be a big issue in The Czech Republic. I'm glad to say that
racism is not a big issue in Britain - it is not often mentioned on the news or
in the press. Unfortunately, we do have several "trouble spots".
In certain cities, like Birmingham, Luton, Bradford and in some areas of London
(e.g. Brixton), there are large populations of ethnic minorities. This is
not a problem in itself, but these groups often complain (with good reason) that
the police are racist towards them. Non-white people tend to not
trust the police or the judicial system. In a recent case where a
coloured man had been murdered, the police did not conduct a proper investigation
and so the suspects, 5 white men, were not arrested or sent to
prison. It was a national scandal.
We also occasionally have problems with groups of "travelling people".
There are two such types in Britain - the gypsies and the "new
age travellers". Most of the population like the gypsies and get on
well with them, but the new age travellers have a bad reputation and
there is often trouble when they arrive. Farmers and towns often try to get
rid of them.
Finally on this topic, there is a relatively new racism problem between the
Scottish and the English. Scotland has recently been "devolved",
which means that it has its own parliament with Britain. This new found freedom
has provoked new racism. Many English people who were living in Scotland have
complained that they have been driven out of the country by people who want the
English to "go home".
My second topic this week is "private fields". Much of the British
countryside is "owned" by large estates and farms. In the 19th century,
the rich decided that to allow thousands of poor city people to use the
countryside would destroy the environment, so they bought much of the
land and prevented the public from using it. Many of these estates and
farms have ancient pathways crossing them. In Britain, if a pathway has
been used for hundreds of years, then the public has a right of access to it.
Typically the owners of the land disagree and try to dispute the existence of
the pathways to prevent the public from walking over the land. Farm owners claim
that the public ruin crops and their pet dogs will kill livestock. Estate
owners claim that the public will drop much litter and will ruin the beauty
of the land. We have an organisation called the "ramblers association"
that fights for the rights of the public to walk along ancient pathways. There
are many court cases every year about rights of access.
Finally, I have the more pleasant topic of popular drinks. The British are a
great beer drinking nation. The typical pub drinks larger, bitter
and cider. There are dozens of types of these drinks, especially in
certain regions. The biggest selection of cider drinks, for example, can be
found in the so called "west country" which is the part of England
just south of Wales. In addition to the traditional drinks there is a choice of
types of drink. The choice has never been better. Recently, the so called "alcopops"
have been introduced. These drinks taste like soft drinks, but have a small
quantity of alcohol in them. They are very popular now. Also, there has been
much interest in new flavoured vodka drinks. These typically consist of one or
two shots of vodka combined with a larger quantity of a fruit (or other)
flavoured liquid to improve the taste and to reduce the strength. One can now
buy vodka drinks in orange, lemon, lime, mint, and
many other flavours.
That is all for this week.