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Firstly, I think that I should define in detail the meaning of the title: I believe, from hearing sentimental and retrospective converstaion between my grandparents, that English culture, particularly the professional efficiency and diligence, has brought upon itself a rather severe downfall.

The train system is a fine example. Though it is better than some countries (especially the under-privileged ones in South America and Africa), one could not say that it is what one would expect from such a economically privileged society like ours. I use this example because it is one which has been scrutinised quite closely by the press and the analytical public in general. It is easy to see why the trains are so inefficient: the tracks are shoddily maintained, the line maintenance workers are lazy and the almost everyone involved with the day-to-day management of the train system sounds or at least acts like they are bored and disinterested. I accept telling passengers over the intercom may be rather dull, but many of these PAYING customers need this information service for business and commercial uses. The only place where I have come across a humorous and vaguely interested driver is in Hampshire, but even then he seemed to desperately want to get out of his cockpit and go home. Fair enough, you might say, but when the lives of many (think back to the crashes at Hatfield and Paddington) are at stake, the must be no room for idleness.

This bored and disinterested fashion of carring out a job important to the social welfare of the state is apparent in many places: supermarkets, general shops and even police stations. I blame this on the almost mutual abolition of the social hierarchy in this country. This, naturally enough, will be accepted by most as an extremely controversial thing to say, but I ask you to consider the argument: in the Victorian times and the years after her reign until the First World War, we had what was probably the best railway system in the world. It was efficient, punctual and well-maintained. The people 'better positioned' were, admittedly, treated better than those 'below' them, but think what the benefits were for the country in general. Besides, the underservants and butlers were content with their lot: they were housed, fed and paid well; if they did not agree with the idea of this system, they were not made a part of it: hence the slums and squalor of the inner-cities.

The traditional image of Britons as efficient and diligent ("British Efficiency") has long since disappeared: gone are the days of leisurely railway travel and helpful shop-assistants; gone too are the times of magnificent country manors and splendid estates, but, saddest of all, gone is the era where we could live in a culture where people can be bothered to work.

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