May I wish all readers and accidental visitors to this blog a Very Happy St George's Day! Today is England's national day though bizarrely its people will pretty much be going about their normal daily lives. It's not a national holiday. Some cleverdick commentators and politically correct whingers have in the past implied that declarations of English patriotism and pride in the national flag are somehow inherently racist and those of us who have felt inclined to sing our nation's praises have had to be more than a little wary.
I find all of that maddening. In America, patriotism is more visible and of course July 4th is a national holiday with family parties, sports events and fireworks. Throughout the year you will see the stars and stripes fluttering from flagpoles on some of the remotest properties.
Of course, I'm Yorkshire Pudding - not English Pudding - but even so I do feel a kinship with most of the fifty million people who inhabit that ancient kingdom and yes - even Lancastrians, even Londoners. We have much to celebrate and to be proud about for our beautiful little country has achieved so much and spawned so many talented people in a wide range of fields from art to science and from exploration to invention. If I began to list them all, this blogpost would be longer than an Andrex toilet roll.
Then there are all the unsung heroes - the Chartists, the coal miners, the Ban the Bomb demonstrators, the lost soldiers from anonymous streets, the suffragettes, the helpful neighbours and the animal rescuers. We should also be proud of their stories for they are the true bones of English society, the hidden foundations.
Of any nation, if you were so inclined, you could dredge up a list of negatives designed to prick the bubble of patriotism but it's always easy to knock, to deride. Harder to stand up and sing your nation's praises. Though I am far away sipping juice from a fresh young coconut by a turquoise bay, I am still proud of my motherland, my England. Let's raise a coconut to St George, the slayer of dragons. Happy St George's Day Everyone!