What do the English think? Every country has a dominant set of beliefs and attitudes concerning everything from how to live a good life, how we should organize society, and the roles of the sexes. Yet despite many attempts to define our national character, what might be called the nation’s philosophy has remained largely unexamined until now.
Philosopher Julian Baggini pinpointed postcode S66 on the outskirts of Rotherham, as England in microcosm – an area which reflected most accurately the full range of the nation’s inhabitants, its most typical mix of urban and rural, old and young, married and single. He then spent six months living there, immersing himself in this typical English Everytown, in order to get to know the mind of a people. It sees the world as full of patterns and order, a view manifest in its enjoyment of gambling. It has a functional, puritanical streak, evident in its notoriously bad cuisine. In the English mind, men should be men and women should be women (but it’s not sure what children should be).
Baggini’s account of the English is both a portrait of its people and a personal story about being an alien in your own land. Sympathetic but critical, serious yet witty, Welcome to Everytown shows a country in which the familiar becomes strange, and the strange familiar.
Praise for Welcome to Everytown
An ‘aimiable, gently insightful and affectionate study of the British psyche and culture … A family feast of sane, sanguine, sympathetic reflection on our times – with a side order of good sense’ – Mail on Sunday ****
‘Generous, clever and thoughtful’ – New Statesman
‘That it avoids pretentiousness is a tribute to Julian Baggini’s humour and good sense’ – FT Magazine
‘Baggini’s skill lies in unpacking the ‘belief systems’ of the English working classes…without bitchiness and without turning the popular into quirky. Baggini’s analysis has potentially far-reaching implications for everyone’ – Observer