As Covid-19 strikes our shores, looking to attack and kill many of us Brits we must question; What is Britishness? Britishness can be glorious, but equally, sometimes less appealing aspects. The extent of the British Empire at its prime to the realities of Post-Colonialism in modern society. The cultural heritage of our nation to the modern ethnic diversities in which we thrive.
What symbol could we select to represent ‘Britishness’. This could be the actual size of an item replicated on a smaller scale. A teacup and saucer jump into vision, possibly a post box or the now virtually redundant phone boxes once of British Telecom. Also in red: traditional buses which are still in service or modernised to a degree. Umbrella’s to represent the ever-present rain showers which engulf our shores, the nostalgic notion of vicars on bicycles. Equally, the symbolism potential of animals could be exploited, the frequently used lion to show strength from the Empire days. Alternatively, a bulldog, famed through Churchill and our victories during World War II. Would we look to incorporate the National Flag: Union Jack and the influence of the Arts and Crafts movement?
If you were asked to collate a statement around the theme of ‘Britishness,’ how would it read?
The concept of ‘Home’, the area in which you live and building, people and places of importance. Identifying with feeling around gender, ethnicity, class and regional background. Do women feel differently to men, do those from ethnic minorities feel as strongly ‘British’ as their white neighbours? Do white working-class opinions vary from those of the nobility? Will Scottish feelings about Anglo-centricity contrast to those of the English?
Whatever your feelings about Britishness, in this state of emergency we must fight off this virus, in isolation but equally in unison.
Are you king of your cardboard castle?
Castles were strong fortresses built to withstand invasion. Saxon Castles were wooden structures, mounds of earth now, grassy peaks protruding from the ground level. Still standing up as always but no longer fit for purpose.
The middle ages saw the use of stone to create strongholds were the Lords ruled the battlements. Lines of arches were arrows could be fired from, surrounded by motes and drawbridges to hinder attack.
100 years ago the First World War saw the emergence of new-style fortresses. The underground variety located within the complex network systems of the trenches. Built-in below the surface to withstand the ongoing bombardment. Little mud cabin forms, mantelpiece like structures temporarily decorated with images of loved ones.
A century on what are today’s fortresses: cardboard.
Is this an example of vagrancy? King of the cardboard city. The temporary housing villages created by the nations homeless communities. Safety and security which can be found with others in parallel situations. Warmth and shelter created from communal fires and the cardboard which houses their inhabitants. Every city has a Major, so the underworld must have a King of the Cardboard Castle?
Are cardboard castles a new concept akin to that of the ‘Plastic Gangster’. The king-style leaders of gangland armed with the plastic imitation weapons of infancy. Is it a paradox similar to the new style treble glazing which costs a fortune but claims to pay for itself through savings in fuel bills and rises in property value. The audio version, that can be downloaded, of the book you don’t have to bother reading. A falsehood, a castle which is weather consumable where protection of extreme limitation is offered.
Could the Cardboard castle be a statement for the future: Recyclable. Was the vision created to make a temporary art form, to be consumed by the public, then recycled through the ease of our green processing plants. Is the new King of the Castle to be a leading eco-warrior? Will we be lead towards a sustainable future by environmentally friendly processes?
The King of the Cardboard Castle to be the leader of the cardboard city, the plastic gangster with the falsehood of might or the modern force of the eco-warrior?