Be proud to be English

Be proud to be English – and take St George’s day back  (Taken from an article in the Mirror 2014)

 

  • Listen to northern soul, or the Rolling Stones, David Bowie, or Purcell or John Tavener – English, every one.
  • Eat buttered crumpets (English invention) cooked in a toaster (English invention) and if they catch light put them out with a fire extinguisher (also an English invention).
  • If you’re still hungry, eat scones with strawberry jam and clotted cream, lemon curd, chicken tikka masala, sticky toffee pudding, anything with custard, Kendal mint cake, Branston pickle, gammon steak with pineapple, bangers and mash, Twiglets, Marmite, pork pies, anything produced by Cadbury’s, coleslaw, a full English breakfast, piccalilli or a mighty Cornish pasty. They’re all ours, along with lasagne and Scotch eggs which aren’t Scotch at all.
  • Eat them with cutlery made from steel, which we invented.
  • Drink! Warm beer, bitter, lager, mild, brown ale, stout, Kentish white wine, Cornish champagne. It’s St George’s Day, the boss will understand.
  • Make the most of light switches, we invented them. On, off, on, off, on, off, on, off…
  • Use a calculator. Write something with a pencil. Use a car seat belt, drive on tarmac, rely on cat’s eyes in the road – they’re all English, and without them the world would be unfathomably worse.
  • Mow the lawn. Vacuum the carpet. Mowers and vacuums were both invented by us.
  • Sit and think about the fact you’re reading this on a computer via the world wide web, and it wouldn’t be possible at all if it weren’t for the likes of Charles Babbage,  Ada Lovelace,and Tim Berners-Lee.
  • Then think about the fact that when Edward Jenner developed a smallpox vaccine in 1796 he probably saved your life, and he is also thought to have saved more lives than were lost in all of humanity’s wars put together.
  • Read  Thomas Gray’s Elegy Written In A Country Churchyard.Look at   some Banksy art. Learn from William Makepeace Thackeray about what the death penalty was really like.
  • Egg a politician – only the English do that, and let’s face it they usually deserve it.
  • Got a pram? English invention. Got some human rights? Thank the Magna Carta. Commute on the train? That’s the first railway system in the world, right there, and yes it often seems like it hasn’t been updated since but it helped to build our cities, our industries, and as such helped lead to our trade unions and our holidays, our equal pay, our sick leave.
  • Watch some cricket. Or if that’s too painful, try bar billiards, darts, bowls, hockey, snooker, rugby, football, Monty Python or  the Red Arrows.
  • Play with some Meccano while drinking Pimms and eating egg mayonnaise sandwiches – or any sandwich, come to that, because we invented ALL of them.
  • If you’re in London, go and look at Tower Bridge in the sunshine.
  • If you’re not in London, look out of the window – from the Cotswolds to Spaghetti Junction, Manchester to Stonehenge, nowhere else looks like that.
  • Get the Scalextric out of the loft. Tell the kids about ZX Spectrums. Practice irony. Eat a Hob-Nob. Complete a crossword puzzle. Hum the Ski Sunday theme tune. Flick the Vs.

You couldn’t do any of those things if it weren’t for the English.

Our team dressing room includes the likes of Good Queen Bess, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Emmeline Pankhurst, James Dyson and the Monster Raving Loony Party.

We stopped Julius Caesar. TWICE. We bred Boudicca. We have the oldest, biggest, and best national health service in the world.

For a thousand years or more England has been a tiny place with a big heart and an even bigger brain – we welcome migrants, we export decency, we gave the planet whizzy new stuff like the wind-up radio.

If we all crow about this it won’t be seen as racist or jingoistic any more – it’ll be just what it is, recognition that our small nation has had a disproportionate and largely good impact on the whole world.

It’s a glorious feat, and one we should be proud of.

The only thing which really hacks us off as a people is a badly-made cup of tea, and the thing which brings us most joy is watching an underdog achieve victory. How many other nations could say that?

And there are two things England is responsible for and which, more than anything else, make the world a finer and more magnificent place.

They are the corkscrew, and the electric kettle.

Just imagine what life would be like without them.

Cheers, St George!

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