Let me tell you a little story. It won’t take up too much of your time. In my home neighbourhood, there were a family who lived nearby whose children were the same ages as me and my brother. We – the children – played together, went to the same school, and grew up together.
The husband of this family was an engineer. The wife was a nurse. They’d met at school and married young. Whenever they went out together he would pour compliments on her. They always held hands. They were very tactile. They were inseparable. She managed to juggle a career, motherhood, and taking care of the house. Ideal stuff. He was always telling people how great she was.
As a child, I was dimly aware of this. Snippets of conversation between neighbours and my parents. The difference between the public affection of the engineer and the nurse and the way my parents just got on with things and took for granted an implied affection without ever vocalizing it in public.
Years later, on a break from being a lazy undergraduate, I heard the nurse had left the engineer. She’d left him because, behind closed doors, the affection vanished and the punishment began. Abuse. Insults. Physical, mental and emotional maltreatment.
To the outside world, he was a loving, caring, husband complimenting and promoting his wife as the very model of modern womanhood. But out of the public eye, she struggled to cope as he thought it his right to unleash pain and suffering upon her.
And it was this distant memory that flashed into my brain this morning as I read about David Cameron’s latest scheme to promote Britain as Great. In a speech to investors in New York ahead of the UN council, Cameron launched the GREAT Britain campaign to promote tourism and investment. He said he was sending out a message ‘loud and proud’ inviting the world to the ‘greatest show on earth’ here in 2012, as the London Olympics coincide with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
I understand the need for tourism and investment promotion, of course I do. Though I’ve very little doubt that 2012 will be a record year for British tourism without spending £100 million on it.
Also, Britain was great to start with. And I’m not all that sure the little ‘Britain is the best place to…’ straplines will make foreign citizens do anything other than go ‘who says?’
Either way, I just can’t shake the image of the engineer sending out a message ‘loud and proud’ about his wife, the nurse, whilst all the while causing her to suffer by his actions.
The £100 million spent on this campaign could surely be spent better elsewhere in the UK, keeping youth projects open, repairing the schools who lost their Building Schools for Future money, and even shelters for women who’ve suffered abuse…
- UK wants Games to boost image after riots (huffingtonpost.com)