We need to remember what makes us British | Blaise Tapp

In the week when we took a significant step to distance ourselves from Europe, there was a succession of news stories that, ironically, seemed to suggest the British identity was under assault.

Saturday, 8th February 2020, 12:00 am
Updated Saturday, 8th February 2020, 12:00 am
Blaise does not want cups of tea to become a thing of the past. Picture: Getty Images.

While anybody can read what they want into the news, it would be difficult to overlook the combined significance of three stories which have all had coverage in the past week or so.

The one thing which is synonymous with being British more than anything except for maybe grumbling about our lousy weather and there being nothing decent to watch on telly, is our love of a brew.

A cup of tea is the one thing that can bring the most disparate of groups together; according to some it can mend a broken heart and it is the only hot beverage that it is legal to dunk Hobnobs into.

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It came as something of a shock, therefore, to read that mega-firm Unilever is considering selling its tea business, which includes PG Tips and Liptons, following a decline in sales which resulted in a dip of profits in 2019.

It is hard to imagine that anything could usurp tea’s place in our hearts, but apparently coffee has done just that.

This bombshell came hot on the heels of the brouhaha that followed the suggestion by one business leader that office sports chat should be curtailed so as not to isolate female colleagues. Her plea on the Today programme was met with a volley of brickbats, largely from female fans of sport, who argued her intervention did nothing for the advancement of the sisterhood.

Keeping on the subject of meaningless waffle, the third story which caught my eye was the revelation that some dog walkers go out of their way not to talk to other human beings when they take Fido to cock his leg somewhere other than their own back garden.

Saying ‘hello’ to complete strangers is standard good manners but it is a dying practice. These days many are reluctant to pass the time of day with people they don’t know for fear of being mugged for their iPhone.

I hope my pessimism about the future of these great British traits is unfounded.