Advent: the value of waiting

Advent is the Christian season when we wait for the coming of the Christ child. And waiting is something we British do very well indeed, or at least we used to. I would put it forward as another, unofficial, Fundamental British Value.

The British used to be renowned for our ability to queue, to anticipate, to enjoy delayed gratification. Our great literature is shaped by time and seasons, waiting for events. The novels of Hardy and the plays of Shakespeare rely heavily on their being a time and season for things – itself an ancient biblical idea.

But this waiting is being eroded. ‘Buy it now’ screams the button on the Amazon site – next day and now same day delivery possible. Interest free credit makes own first pay later the modus operandi instead of saving up. No fruit or vegetable hasĀ  a season anymore, they have just travelled different numbers of air miles to get to us.

At the same time as we want it now, so modern thinking promotes mindfulness. Somewhat ironically this urges us to appreciate the moment, to rest in time, to take that deep breathe, to appreciate.

Perhaps the wheel is turning and once again Britain will be great again – at least in queues.