28 September 2006

Patriotism

Why are so many of my fellow countrymen cynical and apologetic about our nation? That sneering, carping, mud-slinging attitude is most offensive and unjustifiable. Standing here on my soap-box, I wish to declare my undying pride and affection for the country which most fortuitously was the land of my birth - Merry Olde England.
It's so easy to knock. So easy to poke fun and it can appear so chic, so daringly dismissive to argue against our country's might, character, achievements and history. I detest that clever-dick nonsense. One of the reasons I am an Americophile is because most Americans genuinely love their country and are not afraid to give voice to their patriotism. They fly the flag both literally and metaphorically.
Here are ten reasons why I'm proud of England, proud to be English and why I love my country:-
1. It's so beautiful here. Green fields and mountains. Rivers and beaches. Paths that weave by ancient drystone walls to little villages where church bells ring and cities which contain fantastic parks and Victorian structures alongside innovative modern architecture.
2. Music. In the annals of popular music, England's contribution is way out of synch with its size. We gave the world The Beatles and we continue to produce exciting, ground-breaking bands and composers.
3. Our language. The English language is the biggest and best language the world has ever known. Its doors are always open to change and in English you can say things more clearly, more accurately, more expressively, more poetically than in any other language. Shakespeare was of course English.
4. Sport. We gave the world football and rugby, cricket, snooker, tennis and squash. Our current Premier League is the best club league in the world and we attract the best players, playing the quickest and most passionate football you are ever likely to see. Plus of course England is the homeland of the great Hull City A.F.C.!

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5. Pubs. No other country in the world can compare! Our pubs are social and they're fun. They provide a home from home and they're mostly different. They welcome you and they serve proper beer not international lagers that are the same the world over - "Rolling Rock" = "Cobra" = "San Miguel" = "Fosters" ( all the same). And our pubs have great names like "The Foaming Quart" or "The Hanged Man", "The Closed Shop" or "Nelly's".
6. History. England's great history is imprinted on the landscape - crumbling castles and huge medieval churches, maritime museums and stately homes, industrial footprints and writers' birthplaces. It's all out there.

7. Multiculturalism. We have opened our hearts to people from other lands and allowed them to stitch new patches into the fabric of our land - Indians and Pakistanis, Africans and Poles, West Indians, Irish, Kurds and Chinese have all helped to enrich our country and in return they have mainly found tolerance, patience and acceptance.
8. Climate. Our temperate climate is never harsh. It's a great climate to work in and its changeability always adds an element of surprise to our daily living - rain or shine. The climate is so important to our greenery and to our wonderful gardens.
9. Innovation. The English have always been pioneers - in industry, invention, medicine, transport and science. Our universities are quite excellent and it is here that steel was invented, the idea of railways was hatched and, with significant input from Scottish cousins, TV and telephones were first conceived. We remain innovators in fashion, software, architecture, health care. The list is endless
10. Character. The English are good at laughing at themselves. They tend to be unassuming and they despise hypocrisy and injustice. They give very generously to charities. They are neighbourly and when put on the spot very kind and good-natured. They queue without complaint and they write letters to newspapers about matters that may appear at first sight to be quite trivial. They care and they're fair.
So that's it. Okay sure, I could easily list ten negatives too but that stuff has had way too much airtime already. I don't believe that patriotism is a dirty word. For overseas visitors, please note that Yorkshire is not a separate country but an ancient county in the jigsaw pattern of England - albeit by far the finest county of all.

13 comments:

  1. If I may crave your indulgence for a few quibbles (and leaving to one side for one moment my astonishment at discovering that you are after all an Englishman, and not as I'd always assumed A Yorkshireman):

    1. one can have too much of a good thing, and variety is the spice of life; beauty there is in this oh-so-bloody-hell-does-it-never-end verdant sceptered isle, but other landscapes have virtues too.

    2. all countries have their history imprinted on the landscape; it is merely the case that some histories are more easily read than others.

    3. for climate see my quibble re the landscape

    4. you left out the Stones

    On the other hand Brunel had my vote for greatest englishman of all time in recognition of and out of deference for all the outstanding creators and innovators born here, I adore your ability to laugh at yourselves (something I wish you could acquire the happy knack of exporting to other and relatively humourless parts of the world) and I salute the multiculturalism which abounds and relatively very successfully

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  2. Very subtle ... you could if you were not such an outstanding example of an English Gentleman have pointed out that no place on earth shoves its history in the face of visitors from arriviste parts as flagrantly as that which was once upon a time the centre of the cultured universe.

    You still left the Stones out.

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  3. Enyo - The Stones? Do you mean Stonehenge because if you're talking about that money-making juggernaut that is The Rolling Stones then I'm afraid my list would have to be at least a couple of hundred items long before they'd even get a footnote. I disagree that the REAL English ever shove our history down people's throats - it's just there and often, even though we live close to it, we don't see it.

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  4. I'm not considered a patriotic American. That is, I love my country even while I get frustrated and enraged by all its faults, but what I love has more to do with it being my home than it being the so-called best nation on earth. Sometimes it feels as if we're 51 different countries (including Washington D.C.) united by a common currency. When it comes to rooting for something or someone, though, my alliances align with the ever-shifting underdog.

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  5. Okay, about those pubs...

    I'm on your side in many ways about Britain. My family and I love it there. The people are delightful and helpful, even if more and more difficult to understand the further north you go. The countryside, London, the marvelous bookstores, the history, all that's great. I'll gloss over the food for the moment, since I could make the same complaints about the food of the American Midwest, which is just as bland but served without the charming accents. And the tea and scones at tea-time and Yorkshire Pudding SORT of make up for overboiled vegetables and a complete incomprehension when it comes to anything fried.

    But here's our bone of contention: When we were travelling on a road-trip through your great Island, my father's normally unshakeable love for England was tested by his inability to get a single decent martini at any of the pubs where we stopped. I'll never forget hearing his anguished voice drifting across the room one evening during a lull in the buzz of voices in the pub.

    "But...but JAMES BOND drinks martinis!"

    That was in the mid '80s. Have things gotten better? Are the mechanics of mixing vodka or gin and vermouth, the proper insertion of an olive now understood? My parents are thinking of paying another visit to our relatives just outside London, and my mother doesn't want to see my now more elderly and frail old father going through that same disillusionment.

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  6. Although I can think of my own list of things that are wrong in this country (nothing ever works, your acceptance of it, failure to plan, emotionally flawed, class society... to name just a few) I won't.

    Despite all its drawbacks I have to agree with you and therefore have chosen this country as my second home.

    It's a beautiful country with great people.

    Most of the time.

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  7. well it bloody well SHOULD be a separate country! And we want the Lake district back too!

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  8. hear hear is all I can say mr pudding. I think patriotism transcends political issues etc and is about having a connection with the place and people amongst whom you grew up. I can't stand that kind of guardian reader socialist snobbishness. It's one thing to criticise what's wrong because you want the country to be better and another to spout all that self hating nonsense from a villa in bloody Tuscany while masturbating over Polly Toynbee.

    I think some of the observations about overboiled vegetables are a little out of date although I confess that I would not wish to order a dry martini in one or two of the pubs that I have been in.

    I'm quite a cynical old bugger really but a brass band in a yorkshire village on a sunny afternnoon with a pint in my hand is surely what heaven is like.

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  9. Couldn't have put it better myself, except maybe the bit about Hull City F.C.

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  10. ALKELDA - Are you sure you are American because your attitude often seems so English. I hereby annoint you an honorary Englishwoman, Duchess of Giggleswick and all the tithe lands therein.
    MOY - Not many people in England drink Martinis - especially men - though I believe there are some gay bars in London and Manchester that specialise in that kind of drink. Just don't ask for a "James Bond" when you visit the lavatory (men's rest room!)
    LAURA - I also annoint you as an honorary Englishwoman. Arise Princess Laura, Dame of Penistone with your O.B.E. for services to childless couples!
    BEACHUTMAN - Yo brother! Weeza Yorkies till eternity but the Lake District was never part of our broad acres. Are you geographically challenged?
    ARTHUR - Your idea of heaven is accurate. In fact up there, God plays the big bass drum and talks like he's fresh out of Tadcaster. "Nah then Artha, tha's bin a bloody bad lad in thi time an tha's not cummin up ere no way! Go to hell!"
    KRIP - Your time as a blogger is coming to an end following your nasty attack on my beloved Hull City. Already I am devising spam mail for you laden with viruses that will not only infect your computer but also your toaster, kettle and telephones. Sorry mate! Hee hee hee!

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  11. Thank you, Sir Pudding! Henceforth, everyone may refer to me as "Yer Grace." As Baldrick said, "Don't worry, Mr. B, you don't have to curtsey or nothin'." As you know, I love England, even though I've not visited the country (Heathrow Airport doesn't count).

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  12. Are but we have a common bond you know. Peter Taylor once managed the mighty Gills. We're almost brothers ;)

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  13. phut ... you put 6. History. England's great history is imprinted on the landscape - crumbling castles and huge medieval churches, maritime museums and stately homes, industrial footprints and writers' birthplaces. It's all out there. and then quibbled.

    I've been suffering a severe case of phone rage or I'd have responded sooner.

    PS don't get into a competition with a Greek Goddess over piles of ancient stones or I'll fling the Parthenon at you (or even the entire Acropolis if I'm in a particularly bad mood). And what's more I'll make you keep the whole decrepit thing too (it will go nicely with all those other stones you have in the BM, but we've been there before I think).

    As for the 'money making juggernaut' well you make it sound like the Beatles never 'stooped' to make a penny from their music-making ventures, and that simply isn't so.

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Mr Pudding welcomes all genuine comments - even those with which he disagrees. However, puerile or abusive comments from anonymous contributors will continue to be given the short shrift they deserve. Any spam comments that get through Google/Blogger defences will also be quickly deleted.