Traditions….what are they? …and are they of any use?

Over the last 18 months many have expressed their dismay at the demise of many of the UK’s traditions. Apparently many of these have been lost to outside influences and there is a desire to reclaim them.

What exactly are these traditions? And more to the point why are they being missed ? It maybe a lazy technique but I feel the burning urge to list some of those that have gone..

  • Bear baiting
  • Cock fighting
  • Persecution of catholics
  • Persecution of Protestants
  • Colonialism
  • Serfdom
  • Slavery
  • Lousy pub food
  • In many cases, lousy beer, as well
  • Criminalisation of homosexuality
  • Bastards (in this case-illegitimate children)
  • Duelling
  • Child chimney sweeps
  • Unchecked child abuse
  • Kids working in coal mines
  • Corporal punishment within schools

I am in no position to judge what is good or bad, yet all of the above would have been active for extended periods of time during the last six centuries, some , obviously, would have been more recent than others. I am in no doubt that there would be some who wished a number of the items in the list were more prevalent today.

The type of traditions that I prefer to reflect upon are

  • Bog snorkelling
  • Queuing
  • Humour
  • Tolerance
  • Cream teas
  • Believing a ‘cuppa’ is best first response to any problem(despite now being a nation of coffee drinkers)
  • Politeness
  • Innovation
  • Irony
  • Creativity
  • Honesty
  • Independent
  • Democracy
  • Supporting the underdog

Some of these maybe over egging the point , but many have a dewy eyed view that Britannia was one big pool of milk and honey , from which everyone drunk. It was never so, far from it.

“Whatever!” Referring to a more recent verbal tradition …”what has this to with the price of bread?”. A lot as it turns out.

Very recently, within our local shopping parade , a bakery has just closed . This Baker was part of a small chain that was first established about 65 years ago. For many years it was the ‘go to’ bakery and even made and supplied Winston Churchill’s 80th birthday cake (perhaps more to do with him being the local MP) . However, during the last ten to fifteen years it failed to adapt. It relied upon the wrong traditions (thinking customers wanted more of the same), failed to invest, innovate and create. The product was just not good enough, the staff were poorly paid and poorly trained . It allowed its customer base (it is the perfect customer base for high end, high margin artisan style baking) to go elsewhere.

On the flip side, Julia and I have just spent a weekend in 14 century house(hotel), where the owners have managed to develop a modern successful business, by combining over six centuries of tradition, with 21st century techniques, through investment, creativity and innovation.

All organisations, big or small gain, from looking at traditions, and learning from them . What traditions should be discarded and what traditions help shape and develop their future . The usefulness of a tradition can be defined as to whether its continuation, or reintroduction is to the future development of an organisation or that of society.

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