[T]his "ugly race," in his words, afflicted by an "earthbound pedantic spirituality" and "puce-faced, finger-jabbing, spittle-flecked politics," a people "impervious to fondness, sympathy or attraction" and susceptible to "a Pooterish yearning for a Fascist order."...
....the central thesis of his book — that anger is the defining characteristic of the English people — feels more like a contrarian conceit than an earnestly held belief. Gill never says what the English might be so angry about, never comes up with any good examples of their fury, never explains why the country's "default setting is anger: lapel-poking, Chinese-burning, ram-raiding, street-shouting, sniping, spitting, shoving, vengeful, inventive rage."
...The loss of empire "broke England's heart," Gill writes, "but it couldn't tell anyone": The English experienced "what everyone who has been dumped experiences — a cataclysmic, middle-aged stumble of self-confidence, and nostalgia came to the rescue."
..."It's a great English conceit that their past is written in granite, whilst pretty much everyone else's is written in sand," he declares. "Having lived this long with the English reverence for the gay pageant of time, I'm always astonished by how little the Europeans make of history and with what ease they will, and indeed can, discard the trappings and links to the past to make way for the convenience and comfort of the present. They seem so cavalier with it, so spendthrift. For the English, discarding the past is like spending capital. Eating seed corn. In England, changing the shape of a telephone box evokes a fury that might be justified by grave robbing."