Hugh Dennis's hilarious and insightful exploration of the changing image of Britain and Britishness.
Hugh Dennis has secretly been worrying about what being 'British' meant for nearly a decade, ever since his friend Ardal O'Hanlon had told him in passing that he was the most British person he had ever met. Hugh was unclear whether he was being praised, teased, vaguely insulted or possibly all three - because it has always been very difficult to know how to feel about being British.
And then the London Olympics came along. We gave the world a gleaming new vision of Britain; a smiling Britain of achievement, a Britain responsible for leading the world into the modern era through the Agrarian and Industrial revolutions, a nation proud to embrace multi-culturalism, individuality, and eccentricity. A country where a major politician can dangle helplessly from a zip wire like a discarded straw dolly and gain in popularity, and whose Queen can send herself up and then descend by parachute.
The unexpected legacy of the Games has been a Britain with a new found self-confidence in which we all know how to be British. A Britain which should be embarrassed by nothing and proud of everything, from sheep to chimneys to the Spice Girls to industrial action and what had always previously been described as our "ailing transport network". A Britain which having been pinned firmly in its own half, has dribbled the length of the field, nutmegged the defenders, unleashed a curling dipping shot into the top right hand corner, scored a wonder goal and is now kissing the badge.
What do they of England know, that only England know? Kipling asked. Writing about your own country is the hardest thing to do. Hugh Dennis has inspected our sceptred isle and remorselessly scoured it inside out and come up with a funny, hilariously satirical, but warm and brilliantly observed portrait of our complicated, ridiculous but loveable country. Utterly readable and laugh out loud funny. - Stephen Fry