18 May 2013

Patriotism

HERO! Brian Fairfield (aged 80) recently won the right to keep flying his
national flag from a flagpole in his Hull garden after complaints from neighbours.
One evening in Bangkok, I met a bearded thirty-something Englishman. He was the husband of one of our primary school teachers. At first we hit it off but then he began to deride his home country, imagining that I would be like-minded and similarly prepared to "knock" the land of my birth.

"Hang on a minute," I said. "What are you talking about? I haven't run away from England. I love England. I love its people, its landscapes, its sense of humour, its inventiveness and creativity and I am proud of the role that England has played in the world - and continues to play.In short I am immensely proud to be English, proud of my country"

His jaw dropped. He was puzzled. It was as if he previously believed that all intelligent ex-pat "escapees" from our homeland are automatically cynical about and critical of Great Britain because of a basket of things like the immigration problem, crime, taxation, trade unionism, European red tape, the class system, "The Daily Mail", Tesco-isation, potholes in roads, litter, dog poo in parks, Michael Gove etc..

But as I said to him - all countries have their problems, their issues. You need to step back and see the positives instead of giving the negatives too much air time.

The other day I counted up how many countries I have visited in my life - it came to fifty. From Liechtenstein to Laos and from South Africa to Southern Ireland. I have been fortunate to see many wonderful things and have met many wonderful people but in the final analysis I can honestly say that the best country I have ever been in is England. It's where my ancestors were born, lived, worked and died. It's where football began - and golf and tennis and rugby. It's where steel was invented and modern industry was born. It's the land of Robin Hood, William Shakespeare, John Lennon, Florence Nightingale, Arthur Scargill, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Charles Dickens, Jessica Ennis, David Hockney, Geoff Boycott and Ken Wagstaff - the list is endless. And our countryside is so beautiful, criss-crossed as it is by an ancient network of pathways. And then there's our pubs - our wonderful pubs. No other country in the world has pubs like ours. And there's our language - our amazing English language that has become the most important, most useful, most incisive and most adaptable language in the world. How could I not be proud of England and grateful that I was born here?

So to all clever-dick ex-pats and knockers of England, I say "Shut up!" Don't smell the coffee but do strip away the cynicism and see the best features of our homeland. And while you are at it, please look in the mirror and see yourself standing there - for you are part of England, England bore you and when you knock our great country you are in effect knocking yourself. So stop it and shut up!

9 comments:

  1. Here...Here!
    I don't mind dog poo in parks it keeps me on my toes.

    Can't say I'm particularly enamoured by Dithery Dave or Katie Kambridge but they are for the most part irrelevant and don't represent the country as a whole.

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  2. Well, of course, I feel that way about the USA, but then I guess we're your children (albeit wayward ones).

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  3. As with all mates having a pint in the pub and knowing each other well, we all understand that each of us has a blue touch paper which, if lit, will require us all to stand well back.

    Mine is any form of injustice, bullying, brutality, especially toward children.

    I think we all know what yours is so I am not going to comment at all.

    I may have fought on three continents but I haven't the guts to take you on. Mine's a pint of Best Bitter, please, if you're getting them in.

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  4. Well said.....this rounds on me.

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  5. I completely agree, YP - except for the football, of course!

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  6. Sir YP, so eloquently written, I can feel the tears building, the lyrics of JP Harvey and Frank Turner start running through my mind.

    As Mary Z said, I feel the same pride for my Oz and the courage of my ancestors to leave the Motherland for new adventures and new beginnings.

    And of course we still welcome POMs as England still loves Aussies.

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  7. I too adore my native England, which is probably why I'm so often saddened by what goes on over there!

    Did I really see 'Arthur Scargill' amongst your heros?

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  8. Geoff Boycott ! Putting his name amongst those other great names, I can truly see the Yorkshire Pudd rose coloured glasses now. Good luck to you Yorkshire Pudd, support your country. Sorry about the Ashes coming back to Oz very shortly. Should I also mention the British Lions about to get a hammering ? Better leave that one until later !

    Probably should mention this is a Tony comment, I have high jacked Helsies account !

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  9. I love England too. Don't know what it's like to live there permanently but it seems a great place to live to me. I guess if you move to live in another country (as your choice) you must have good reasons to leave but from what I hear they are reasons of climate more than anything. I think most retain a loyalty to their homeland without necessarily wanting to return.
    (It's really me this time !! )

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