English on the Internet - English Magazine

Greetings my Czech friends!

November 28, 1999

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 many new
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.

by Duncan - Great Britain, enjoys writing to penpals from all over the world

Any request or comments should be emailed to me at dareid@btinternet.com or you can visit my home page at www.btinternet.com/~dareid

© November 1999 English on the Internet www.aj.cz