It was said that “The sun never sets on British soil” at a time when the great empire occupied 13 billion sq miles about a quarter of the earth’s total land area and ruled over 450 million people in the late 16th and early 18th centuries. That’s over a century as a global power running the largest commercial entity 24/7 from early slave trade to the industrial revolution of the imperial era.
It’s amazing that so much can be achieved considering that the kings and queens hardly stepped out of their palaces, moved about in heavy thick gowns, spent time beheading their enemies, had strings of lovers, and picked fights with their neighbours ever so often. It was management par excellence.
But we’re in a different world today. Almost all around cosmopolitan UK cities and outer London, the local English people have become some sort of a minority. At a glance you see mostly Asians and Indians; look closer you see the Africans and islanders from the West Indies.
The former British colonies seem to be doing a turnaround and are occupying the land that were once owned by their masters, establishing colonies in the boroughs with their ethnic shops and worship houses such that if you want to meet the true locals, you’ll have to go to the villages or countryside.
I wonder how the British feel about all this. It must be quite frustrating and I can understand this as we’re having the same problem back in Singapore. Someday kids will learn about the great diaspora of the 21st century and how they ended up wherever they will be in the future.
In the meantime, thinkers and artists are probably pondering what kind of battles they are fighting today. Is it generational, beliefs or power? And what kind of victories are they hoping to claim?
Whatever it is, I just hope the British wit and humour stays forever. It should if the blue cock statue at Trafalgar Square is anything to go by. It’s a symbol of cockiness, a tease to the male heroes of old and a victory for women staking a place in the square by its female creator. London never fails to amaze me.