The New York Times (hat tip family again) today suggests that in Britain the times they are a'changing and from being a confident major power prepared to use military might in order to assert our will we are now more prone to worry and look the other way. The idea is that a great tanker of history is changing course.
The article also picks up on George Monbiot's, see the Guardian or his blog, thesis that The Lakes in England's furthest North West is not worth the status of a world heritage location because it is effectively a sheep wreck, as in the wool and mutton producing munchers of grass and anything else it can chew to the detriment of the both plant and wild life.
William Wordsworth, the poet once taught in every school but now in very few, is cited as being partly to blame. But he may have been writing when there was a degree of tree cover still there as opposed to our Forestry Commission pine stacks planted to serve as coal mine pit props.
We do not have the figures to work out when the sheep boom actually peaked, but as he died in 1850 it might have been just before then. But much later one effect of agricultural subsidy may well have been to give the sheep almost free rein.
A good many men from The Lakes went elsewhere, some to New Zealand and some to Australia taking their sheep and skills with them. One of the poet's grandsons was one, marrying into the family of one of these sheep farming families.
The New York Times seems to have realised that our politicians and government may now just be beginning to realise that all our pretensions and posturing now will no longer work. This has been the case for some time but there has been a reluctance in the media and political bubble to admit it.
For my money it goes back a lot longer. In fact for some time Britain has been more like a Torrey Canyon that hapless vessel than a large ship simply changing course.
I think I have that sinking feeling.