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reasons why i love my country (even though part of me wants to leave it all the time)

Posted Aug 01 2010 2:21am

the last of the English strawberries

Readers, unless you have been living under a rock for the last week (and in a way, if you have, I’m jealous), you will have noticed a little bit of a kerfuffle in the American media about yoga.  Yes yoga!  Who would have thought it!  The New York Times published this controversial article about Anusura founder John Friend who in turn published this reply .  If you read It’s All Yoga Baby or YogaDork you’ll already know all about this.

I had to smile.  Only across the Atlantic eh?  Yoga would just never make the major newspapers in the UK.   Yoga here  is still something that ladies in leotards do in drafty church halls on Wednesday mornings, something that gym goers do for a change, something that is long accepted as part of a lot of people’s lives, but really not taken that seriously by those who don’t do it.  Occassionally you get the odd newspaper article about it.  I remember one about Bikram a few years ago in the Observer (left of centre Sunday paper) the overall conclusion of which was “Really?  People pay you that much money to be tortured in a really hot room?  Okay then!”.  I remember a huge emphasis being put on the fact that he was sitting on a leopard print throne throughout.  And then you get the odd article about how Bruce Forsythe (extremely old ugly television presenter) has stayed limber in his 80s doing shoulderstands every day (for real, click here if you don’t believe me), but you know, it’s hardly cutting edge stuff.

Us Brits have a hard time taking anything seriously.  It’s the British way.  It’s how we lost an Empire.  We don’t have “rock star yoga teachers” (we barely have actual rock stars), we have old hippies from South London (sorry Bob!), and I should think most British yoga teachers like myself are rolling on the floor laughing at the thought of making any money out of teaching, let alone enough to live in a “mock Tudor mansion”. Instead we do it (as I’m sure 99% of American teachers do) for love and committment.   Believe me, with most of the yoga teacher training programmes taking at least two years to complete, you have to be committed.

Friend-Gate, as it shall henceforth be known, has done me a huge favour.  It’s reminded me why I love my country.  Yes, it rains a lot and we all have Vitamin D deficiency and bad teeth.  Yes, we have a bizarre government that nobody voted in and only one Green MP.  Yes, we have the worst plumbing in the western world and our kitchens are always too small.  But we have strawberries and Wimbledon, free health care and social welfare, Shakespeare and the correct use of the letter “u” (sorry I couldn’t resist), and we are never far from the sea.

Without a doubt I’ll be furious with Britain all over again tomorrow but for today I raise a strawberry to you my country, long may we take everything with a huge pinch of salt!

(in pictures will return next week – it’s been rainy and I’ve had a headache)

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