So it was St George’s Day yesterday and the whole occasion hit me as a bit of a paradox.
Firstly – unless I went around in a zombiefied state yesterday (perfectly possible) – I seem to have totally missed any notification that it was St George’s day from the news media. This seems to me to be entirely wrong. I think a little bit of national pride can be a good thing and we should justly celebrate our Englishness one day a year just as the Irish quite rightly enjoy a good rave up on St Patrick’s Day. It’s about time the English stopped mooching around in their hoodies and behaving like the cross of St George is some kind of criminal brand.
OK. Soapbox dispensed with.
And then on the way home from work last night I came across a huge bunch of people obviously doing the above with unrestrained gusto outside a town centre pub. And I promptly went back to wishing my fellow countrymen would spend the entire day mooching around in their hoodies and trying not to be picked up on the local CCTV cameras.
It was ugly. It was bullish. And it made me feel ashamed.
Can we English not exhibit national pride without making it look xenophobic, aggressive and something akin to football thuggery?
And what or where is this “Eng-er-land” of which they so raucously chant?
I don’t want to live in Eng-er-land!
It sounds, well to be honest, unappetizingly Neanderthal. A bit backwards and inbred. A land of beer gutted, ruddy faced pie eating brutes who discordantly sing “God Save The Queen” while at the same time giving anyone with a home counties accent a good kicking for being “a bit of a sneering toff”.
I know, I know. I’m being a snob.
Why shouldn’t the common people (of which I am one) celebrate St George’s Day the common way (10 pints of ale and a gristle pie)? After all England isn’t just about Ascot, the Boat Race and Vaughan Williams, is it? It’s also about football and darts and fish & chips. And chavs. And underage pregnancy. And Big Brother. And men who walk around shirtless at the first sign of sunshine in April in a desperate attempt to get a fast-track tan only to succeed in making themselves look like pigeon-toed irradiated sides of beef.
But for Lord’s sake, where is the sense of pride in our pride? Where is the sense of self respect? Where is the noble aspect, the aspiration? The inspiration?
Surely celebrating our national identity should be a chance to hold our heads up high – not merely to lift our beer bellies up out of the gutter while we spew several cans of Special Brew and a hastily masticated kebab down the drain?
When on earth did St George become synonymous with Bacchus? Or worse still, the BNP?