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Wednesday, 22 April 2009

For England and St. George!

April 23rd is the feast of St. George, patron of England, and on such a day, I am proud to be English and will wear a rose on my lapel!

The pride in being English doesn't come from any sense of old conquests or empires, but rather from the fells, the waterfalls, the scenery, and the literary heritage. The fact that the Feast Day coincides with Shakespeare's birthday (Happy Birthday, William!) is significant!

What makes the English so English? If ever there was a generalisation this is it!! We talk about the weather a lot because it changes a lot. We support the underdog, but as soon as the underdog gains any semblance of success, we knock them down again! We laugh at ourselves a lot and are a rather diffident race (probably due to the weather and the fact that if it's rainy - as it is a lot - we don't go out much). We know that the solution to every problem is to have a cup of tea (and it works!!) and we, being an island, are rather insular but love our Queen and our history. When we go on holiday, we sit. English people go somewhere and 'sit'. I have seen people drive somewhere lovely and sit in their cars and eat sandwiches and then drive home again. Cricket goes on for days and days and English people sit watching it. We're generally respectful but not so friendly as other nations but once we give our hearts, we give them for life. We're not very good cooks (but we make great Yorkshire Puddings) and, to return to the tea, Marlene Dietrich got it spot on!:
The British have an umbilical cord which has never been cut and through which tea flows constantly. It is curious to watch them in times of sudden horror, tragedy or disaster. The pulse stops apparently, and nothing can be done, and no move made, until "a nice cup of tea" is quickly made. There is no question that it brings solace and does steady the mind. What a pity all countries are not so tea-conscious. World-peace conferences would run more smoothly if "a nice cup of tea", or indeed, a samovar were available at the proper time.

Nowadays, England seems to be disappearing under the EU flag, but we're still here and won't go away. Funny how a long time ago Paul Guadalla wrote: An Englishman is a man who lives on an island in the North Sea governed by Scotsmen.

And to end this English-navel-gazing, I love Blake's Jerusalem, which so aptly describes the north of England even today with the remnants of the 'dark satanic mills':

I will not cease from Mental Fight,
Nor shall my Sword sleep in my hand
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England's green and pleasant Land.

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