Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Proud To Be English?

An excellent article in the Times online today by Melanie Reid about Englishness. I've always been happy that English patriotism is cooly understated and I particularly liked the following paragraph:

For me, Englishness resides in character, not anything physical. It is an indefinable stew of tolerance, decency, resourcefulness and humour that only manifests itself when called upon. Englishness means being determinedly unshowy; modest to the point, often, of crashing dullness. Englishness means possessing a deep sense of fairness, usually completely inarticulated, and a prize-winning ability for a good moan. Englishness may be vulgar: whether it be shell suits and pitbulls; or monogrammed initials on your well cover - God bless you, Sir Peter Viggers - but on the whole it would rather do you a good turn than a bad.

I tend to make my point when having to complete a ridiculous 'equality form'. They usually contain 'White British', White Irish' etc., etc. So I usually tick 'White Other' and, if given the option, add 'English'.

Nations that obsess about their identities and are overtly patriotic tend to be proportionately nasty and unpleasant. Just look at the sectarian murder this weekend in Northern Ireland. It seems to me that Northern Ireland is about one group of 'patriots' versus another. Look at the fascist regimes of the 1930s and beyond, highly patriotic, highly destructive.

Welsh and Scottish nationalism tend to be corny and vulgarly contrived, often based on anti-English sentiment. I would hate England to make a conscious decision to become more overtly patriotic, that is a very dangerous path. I like our understated patriotism thank you.

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