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.!
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.