On the quasi-wartime mentality that is felt on occasion in the UK.


On the 6th of this month, me and the thousand or so other passengers killing time in Gatwick Airport's departure lounge were surprised to hear the fire alarm go. As instructed by the loudspeakers, we all strutted not ran to the emergency exits and were then lined up in a stone yard by solemn-faced staff decked out in daffodil-yellow plastic, as a handful of visibly unhurried firemen plodded a path through us to inspect what can only, in retrospect, have been an imaginary incident conjured up for drill purposes. What sticks in the memory, though, is the way so many people clearly relished the drama of it all. Indeed, ever since 9/11, there has been a discreet atmosphere of permanent vigilance in Britain, as if the Blitz mentality – the comradeship and even cosiness experienced when civilian targets were being bombed in World War Two – had come back to roost. The current economic crisis (excitably christened 'credit crunch' by the local media) seems to be accentuating this sense of siege solidarity even more. For example, BBC's Radio Four now has a programme on which people are told how to cut down on meat costs by eating cheaper cuts or even cheaper animals. On the 27th of this month, this show recommended that people get used to consuming squirrels, whose abundance and zero-cost diet (nuts) makes them remarkably inexpensive. Only a vivid collective memory of their war-torn past could explain how the British could be encouraged by a drop in the prices of their gardened houses to start cooking up bushy-tailed rats. All that's needed now to round off an authentic wartime feel is for them to follow in Basil Fawlty's footsteps and spice up their rodent suppers with a Colditz salad, a pickled Goering and an Eva Prawn cocktail.

- Textos i contingut: Matthew Tree - Disseny i programació: Nac -