Column

Changing culture

The first time I visited Britain was 30 years ago, in 1976. Many happy returns followed. Almost from the start visiting Britain felt like visiting home and it is difficult to define what exactly it was that attracted me. But one thing certainly was that British people seemed more disciplined.   

There were differences you had to get used to one of the things that struck me was that British pedestrians waited for a red light before crossing. In Holland a red light for pedestrians meant that you had to look right or left to see if there was any traffic. If there was no traffic coming, you crossed.

It is embarrassing to find that you automatically cross where other people wait so you adapt fairly quickly to things like that.

Last year it struck me that the custom has changed. I was waiting for a red light when I suddenly realised I was the only one. Everybody was crossing when they could. From that time I was aware of this change in culture and found it was fairly common.

A sign that Britain is losing the discipline that Dutch people have lost for ages? A sign that cultures within Europe are getting more and more the same?

Christien van Gool

September 2006
cmmhvangool@planet.nl