...says Benjamin von Stuckrad-Barre:
The thing that seems impermeably German is, in fact, anger. Collectively and individually, the Germans are angry about something. The pursed lip and the muttered expletives, the furious glance and the beetled brow are Germany’s national costume.
A simmering, unfocused lurking anger is the collective cross Germany bears with ill grace. I can see it in German faces, in the dumb semaphore of their bodies. It’s how they stand and fold their arms and wait in queues. It’s why they can’t dance or relax.
Anger has made the Germans an ugly race. But then this anger is also the source of Germany’s most admirable achievement — their heroic self-control. It’s the daily struggle of not giving in to their natural inclination to run amok with a walking-stick, to spit and bite in a crowded sausage-stand, that I admire most in the Germans. It’s not what they are, but their ability to suppress what they are, that’s great about the Germans.
Oops, sorry. That actually wasn't Benjamin v. Stuckrad-Barre on the Germans, it was AA Gill writing about the English.
Yes, the English. I thought only continentals really enjoyed the masochistic spiral of self-hatred, and shame based on that self-hatred, and shame and self-hatred caused by being ashamed of the self-hatred. Not by a long shot. John Bull, welcome to the club!