This vulgar Britain: Cult of celebrity and binge-drinking have replaced manners, says tourist guide
By DAVID WILKES - More by this author »
Last updated at 11:24am on 23rd May 2007 Comments (18)
Forget afternoon tea, cricket on the village green, roast beef and good manners.
Britain is suffering an identity crisis as our genteel traditions are eroded by an obsession with TV talent shows, junk food, binge-drinking and porn, and diluted by multiculturalism, according to a travel guide.
It is "a telling indictment that more vote in TV talent shows than for their country's leaders", says the latest edition of the Lonely Planet guide to Great Britain.
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Binge-drinking causes 'vandalism and nuisance', says Lonely Planet
It adds that Britons love news of the famous "even though their 'celebrity' status is based on little more than the ability to sing a jolly tune, look good in tight trousers or kick a ball in the right direction".
Adding to the sense of a despair, the guide says that although some crime rates are dropping, "vandalism and nuisance behaviour caused by binge- drinking remain serious problems".
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The cult of celebrity, junk food and binge-drinking have replaced tea, cricket and manners as national symbols, say tourist guide
And it warns that in the aftermath of the July 2005 London bombings, "a general air of disillusion prevails", with Britons seemingly "tired of politicians whatever their hue".
On the culinary front, the guide says: "Without doubt you can find great food in Britain. It's just that not all the Brits seem to like eating it."
Instead, we eat more junk food and ready meals than the rest of Europe put together.
The guide says Britain has the world's fastest-growing market for Internet porn.
"A survey in mid-2006 revealed 25 per cent of the UK population downloaded images from pornographic websites," it says, adding that nearly 1.5 million of those were women.
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The sense of turmoil about our national identity has been further fuelled by the growing independence of Scotland and Wales, along with the continued influx of people from around the world.
This has led the population to question whether they are British or whether they see themselves as English, Scottish or Welsh, says the guide, which was written by a team of nine authors from Britain, Ireland, America and Australia.
The guide describes a cosmopolitan society which is heavily influenced by its multicultural population and where "many are happy to revel in this diversity".
This has meant that "it's difficult to generalise about a British national psyche - mainly because there isn't one!"
But it also means Britain is somewhere foreign visitors can come and feel at ease.
Lead author David Else, who is English, said: "Although Britain's had a reputation for being multicultural for decades, this has escalated in recent years and the impact of these different cultures has become more significant."
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The guide says cities have been enhanced by diversity and multiculturalism. Leicester, for example, has transformed itself into "a vibrant, socially progressive melting pot", it says.
"It has a large and vibrant Asian community with many interesting events staged around religious festivals such as Holi, Diwali and Eid-ul-Fitr."
Mr Else said: "Brits are as likely to tuck into a chicken madras as a Sunday roast, or to check out the Notting Hill carnival rather than Trooping the Colour.
"The traditional British icons are still there, whether it be Tower Bridge, fish and chips or cups of tea. They are all worth experiencing. But at the same time Britain is changing.
"Everyone can find something which suits them. We need to revel in this diversity as this is the future of Britain."
The book, on sale at £16.99 from today, says Winston Churchill remains the best-known Briton, followed by Lord Nelson, Margaret Thatcher and David Beckham.