23 April 2012

England

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!

13 comments:

  1. it's a shame we're too afraid to fly our flag.... to have pride in being British..... but those qualities are what make us so intrinsically British!! Ironic! Talk about hiding a light under a bushel.... we're the masters of it. Big cheer from me to all our "voluntary" workers today!!

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  2. Yes, indeed, YP. Happy St George's Day to you too. (Chinking coconuts with you!)

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  3. A very happy St George's Day from this far flung outpost of the Empire - sorry Commonwealth. you know how much I love England, there's nowhere like it.
    cheers

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  4. Happy St George's day to you too....your tales of the island make me wish I had thrown caution to the wind, packed a sarong and said 'sod it' to tidying the airing cupboard.

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  5. On the way over to the US, the inflight reading material included their version of the Innovations catalogue. One of the items was a special flagpole for outside your house that would proudly display the stars and stripes without it twisting in the wind.

    We've seen a few flags fluttering while we've been here (including an enormous one outside McDonalds) although few, if any, outside private homes.

    The point being, I suppose, that overt displays of patriotism are not as common as I expected, but not an unusual thing either. Flying the flag isn't an issue either way.

    In the UK we seem to have got ourselves tied up in knots over the symbolism of the flag of St George. Is it patriotism or jingoism? A statement of pride or far-right politics?

    I guess it goes against our introverted and cynical nature to show enthusiasm for our country.

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  6. St. George, St. Patrick, St. Andrew, St. David -- they all blend together in that wonderful flag of yours.

    Our flag is the symbol of our country in the same sense your monarch is the symbol of yours, perhaps?

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  7. Raising a coconut to you all from this anglophile! (YP did you notice that my wanna-be 'swiss' army knife has 'Sheffield' on it? Spooky, possums!)

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  8. ARCTIC FOX Err who said anything about being "British"? But I'm behind your cheer for voluntary workers and appreciate your inverted commas.
    JENNY Sadly for you, nobody in Blogland drinks red wine from coconuts! Cheers!
    HELEN I'm going to write to the Queen and recommend that you become Dame Helen Happenings of Brisbane.
    LIBBY Why bother with the sarong? You can't beat a bit of skinny dipping though gentlemen have to watch out for lurking lobsters.
    HANK S. PARROTS III "Introverted and cynical nature?" Speak for yourself dude! I'm a 24/7 party animal with a 100% positivity. Have a nice day!
    RHYMES WITH My country is England and the flag of St George means as much to me as the stars and stripes do to you. The flag is less about the monarch and more about the people, their values and their proud history.

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  9. They celebrated St. George at my son's Waldorf School, in grand style. The 8th graders manufactured a dragon that the whole class got inside of and chased the 3rd graders all around the soccer field with the rest of the student body cheering. Then a specially-chosen high school senior came in (sometimes even on a horse!) and slayed the dragon. Is that the same St. George? It was really fun, who cares what the significance is. I think that we should have more holidays and celebrations, not fewer. Are we supposed to be embarassed if we have a good time?

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  10. It's bemusing, and confusing, but yes, there does seem to be an unwillingness to show our Englishness, for better or for worse. Some have suggested to me that we don't have to publicly show our nataional pride as we are satisfied and sure of ourselves as a nation - whereas those countries who do, maybe it's because they have an innner feeling of insecurity. Maybe? But that how can the USA, for example, be insecure with 400000 aircraft carriers?
    Anyway, before I left England ('88), i always associated the St George flag with the National Front (extreme right racist party, for non UK readres), and would never have dreamed of flying it myself. However, every 4 years since then, I've seen that through football, the flag is being reclaimed for "normal" Englanders, as it's become the norm to see it flown, and stuck on car bumpers, when England play (ehm) football. I'm pretty sure that back in the 80s you'd see the Union Jack flown at footy matches rather than the red cross of George.
    Strange to none-English folk also why George's day is not celebrated at all, when nearly every other country in the world celebrates a special day - whether it be Spain-style, with tanks and military processions, or Catalonia-style offering roses as a token to your loved ones, he says objectively.

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  11. big hugs pud!
    although I am not celebrating st George's day!
    St David for me!

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  13. I have to disagree with rhymeswithplague on the monarchy. I understand that from a tourism point of view they may symbolise Britain to overseas visitors but the flag that blends the four countries so well surely must symbolise the unification of 4countries into one nation.
    I think emphasis should be given to those 4 different special days but then, is there a day for the unified Britain so that the old divisions are not encouraged to fester ?
    I'm all for patriotism. We need to think of our country more not ourselves all the time.
    Cheers

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