The idle ramblings of a Jack of some trades, Master of none

Apr 22, 2008

Hurray for St George!

2003, in several ways, was the year that the English regained their patriotism. Their rugby team won the World Cup, and the white flag with a red cross never fluttered higher. Two years later, they 1 thumped the Ozzies at the Ashes, and the cup of joy never seemed fuller. Around that time, people started to speak of the English as a distinct people, not just as an amorphous British (which was anyway equated to England, the isles having been long dominated by them). While the Scots and the Northern Irish had clamoured for their own legislatures and won them, and even secession was talked of loudly, the English began to think of a parliament they could call theirs. While they were at it, they rediscovered St George.

It's been a sign of inclusion that, all this time, the English had ignored their patron saint and celebrated instead the days of St Patrick, main man of Ireland. The tub-thumping press, though, has started a new wave of enthusiasm for the slayer of the dragon. Tomorrow is St. George's Day, and even if he (as the Turks claim) is not really English, for the purposes of advertising and the consumption of large quantities of tipple, he has been reclaimed with gusto.

English Heritage has got into the act. With characteristic politeness, though, they would like you to take a stand: are you for the Saint or are you for the Dragon?

Interestingly, it's also William Shakespeare's birthday tomorrow. When I was little, I was assured by two bullies and one demagogue that Shakespeare was actually a Kashmiri emigre named Sheikh Pir; whatever the merits of that claim, I think it singularly appropriate that the man, the greatest of English playwrights, epitomises his Englishness so fundamentally. Aha-ha-ha. Take that, you two bullies, and you demagogue. Bet you Kashmiri upstarts can't top that.

[1] Well, okay, it was the England and Wales Cricket Board whose players thumped the Australians.


Post a Comment