Becoming Insular

The graphic refers to a BBC programme where the catchphrase is “This is a Local Shop for Local People” or something like that. It points at the tendency for becoming insular and cut off from the wider world. This phenomenon can be found on all sides, in villages, in countries and in institutions. One might imagine that North Korea is a bit Royston Vasey. The series was filmed in a village not far from where I used to live. Once one has become institutionalized one cannot see beyond the institution and all thinking revolves around the internal politics of that institution or village. It dominates. It does not matter overly if the outside world looks in and thinks; “what a weird bunch that lot are.” It is the local and the petty, which takes up all the time. Some people have never left the town they grew up in and others have been at the same institution nearly all of their adult life. To walk out of the gates past “security” is unthinkable to them. To try to explain that there is a world beyond the confines of Royston Vasey is to waste breath, because even if it is accepted as an interesting concept that is as far as it goes. Like all insular communities the thinking tightens, and the thinking-gene-pool interbreeds and mutates.

By the age of 13 I had 150,000 air miles, back when flying was rare. At the time I longed to be in a Royston Vasey with some continuity, but that travel has served me well. My father had a khukuri given to him by the Gurkhas he served with in Malaya and there were various other exotic things which captured my imagination. For a young kid, there was plenty to experience even if a tad more stability would have been welcome. I am more adventurous that the average Brit. of my generation. I have seen things they haven’t and not just on holiday. I have seen a black mamba cross the cycle path under my wheels, I have seen a man taken by a crocodile, feet from me and where I had just swum in the Kafue river.

This insularity is getting worse. We have the soon to be fortress USA and the UK does not want to play with its neighbours any more. Like Canute the tide must be repelled. History does not care over much for the self-importance of man, it keeps on rolling, it ebbs, it flows. We can only have a local shop for local people for so long. Soon we get Garapagosu-ka or Galápagos syndrome. It stems from a miss-placed over confidence. Before long Royston Vasey starts to get a bad reputation and people avoid it.

And then we have local people arguing about the local shop and the internal workings of Royston Vasey. That is where the horizon ends.