Ginger and Proud!
An American colleague and fellow blogger recently wrote a personal perspective on the subject of “Patriotism” (you can read it here). This got me to thinking, realising, how different patriotism is on this side of the pond – in the UK, Great Britain, England. You see what I mean? We are not even sure what to call ourselves.
To clarify “The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland” is a sovereign country; Great Britain is an island consisting of England, Wales and Scotland. Does that help? But for sure, it seems an increasingly uneasy alliance. Scotland seems to be on the verge of seeking independence. While the Welsh have, for now, stopped burning down the homes of English people resident within their borders, they still seek to differentiate themselves in terms of culture and language. The Northern Irish are, to say the least, “split”, between their “allegiance” to Queen Elizabeth or the island of Ireland.
The unofficial anthem of the Scots (Flower of Scotland) goes: “O flower of Scotland, When will we see, Your like again, That fought and died for, Your wee bit hill and glen, And stood against him, Proud Edward’s army, And sent him homeward, Tae think again”, celebrating a (rare) defeat over the invading English king’s army.
I can remember only a handful of occasions when the nation has felt truly patriotic – the Silver Jubilee in 1977, the Falklands War in 1982, the Rugby World Cup in 2003, the Ashes victory in 2005 and the recent Beijing Olympics.
Well, I consider myself to be British first and English second. This is probably because I feel that England has less of a distinctive identity than Britain. For those of you in North America, we do not all speak like Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins; we do not all wear bowler hats and carry an umbrella!. The English identity is less clear to me than that of the Irish, the Scots and the Welsh. Indeed, it has almost become un-pc to claim to be a patriotic Englishman.
While cries of “U-S-A!” are seen as patriotic cries of encouragement for American sporting teams, cries of “Ingerland! are more of a battle cry, spat venomously by football hooligans. Indeed, the bowler hat characterisation of old-England has probably been replaced by the image of a shaven-haired, football-shirted, yob with pitbull in tow. Ginger spice apart, sporting the Cross of St George is more of a “come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough” than a declaration of patriotism. Indeed, flying the English flag, in some quarters has associations with the British National Party and racist (or pro-white) overtones. This is plain wrong. It is an association I abhor and resent.
Similarly, we seem to be embarrassed by our Christian heritage. The “Christmas holidays” have given way to “Winter Festivals” for fear of offending the many non-Christian fellow Brits. My home city of Birmingham has a notorious “Winterval”. Ridiculous! Personally, I think we should celebrate them all – Christmas, Diwali, Hanukkah, Eid ul-Adha, whatever – celebrate their differences, their similarities, the diversity.
I am proud to be British. Founders of the biggest Empire the world has so-far seen. I know our history has been far from un-blemished but I am not of the school that the present Queen should apologise for all past misdemeanours – slavery, genocide, ethnic cleansing, etc, etc. I am proud of our industrial heritage and our invention – the airplane, the guillotine, the electric bulb, the telephone, radio, the iPod, etc. etc. All invented here (hopefully that will inflame some comments from across the water!).
I am proud that as a nation we still punch above our weight politically, diplomatically, economically, militarily, and on the sporting field (football aside!).
I know that I am a patriotic Brit. A proud Englishman. I celebrate our multi-culturism, our demographic diversity, our addiction to class and celebrity, our “fairness”, our “arrogance”, our “cockiness”, and, Morris Dancing!.
Entry filed under: humour, Politics. Tags: ashes, beijing olympics, bnp, british empire, british national party, christian heritage, dick van dyke, diversity, diwali, eid ul-adha, england, falklands war, flower of scotland, ginger spice, great britain, hanukkah, invention, mary poppins, morris dance, morris dancing, patriotism, rugby world cup, silver jubilee, uk, united kingdom, winter festival.