Thursday, April 23, 2009

The St George's Day Question

Part of me thinks it is a shame that we can't celebrate our national saint's day and that patriotism is associated with racism. But then I see people actually celebrating being English, I think that St George's Day is probably best ignored.

Once more the pub next door to work was flying the flag of Englishness. The bunting was being hung when I arrived this morning, and predictably at lunchtime, the band followed, subjecting us to an afternoon of songs that haven't been popular since the 1940s. A quaint, and mostly harmless notion of Englishness, although I got the impression that they were mourning the loss of the colonies and still celebrating defeating the Germans.

But this was better than what followed.

Late afternoon, the Enger-Land crowds turned up, with the Vera Lynn songs replaced by inane chants of "Enger-Land" and "I'm England til I die". In my five minute walk from the office, I was three times accosted by men drapped in St George's Crosses, starting with the innocous "Allo Treacle", progressing to the offer of "would you like to be wrapped in this flag with me, darling".

If this is what it means to be English, next time I'm accused of being Norwegian, Irish or Polish (all of which have happened), I won't contradict it.

I then passed a woman, clearly English from her accent, who looking at all of the people in flags, said to her friend, "There must be a football match on", obviously unaware that it was an important national day. There is lies the problem. There needs to be a way of celebrating St George's day for the rest of us majority who fall outside of the nostalgic and moronic.

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