Happy St George’s Day, everyone!
Now I know that Nigel Farage would probably have kittens if he found out that someone with a foreign name like Johansen was celebrating England’s national day, especially as well over half of my heritage is Norwegian and Dutch, but – hey! – I was born here and I still happen to be very proud to be English. There I said it. Proud to be English. And so was our Palestinian saint, George himself.
A myth existed for many years that celebrating Englishness was the province of the political right and the right only, that those of us of a more left wing disposition (a very cuddly, unthreatening left-of-centre soggy liberal, in my case) could not possibly embrace our nation, but have I got news for you? It is true that the far right commandeered the flag of St George, but they never owned it. Myths appeared that people were afraid of displaying the flag for fear of upsetting minorities under the dead hand of political correctness but that was wrong in two different ways. Firstly, I have never come across anyone was afraid of flying the flag and I have never met a member of a minority group (this is code for muslim, by the way) who was offended by the sight of a flag.
My issue with St George’s Day is that we are all too apathetic about it. We are all over social networks wishing everyone good wishes, but who is celebrating it? The Irish are not exactly shy about celebrating St Patrick’s Day and no one is calling their celebrations racist or bigoted, probably because they aren’t, anymore than they are saying the same to the Scots for celebrating St Andrew’s Day. I would certainly introduce an additional bank holiday for St George’s Day, preferably on a Friday, where we could all celebrate with English ale, roast beef and of course Morris Dancing.
Actually, we have much to celebrate. Look around the world, especially in terms of the history of sport and culture, and England has much to which we can raise a glass. It would probably rain on the day, every year, knowing our climate, but wouldn’t that be part of the fun? After all, many of us go abroad on holiday not because where we are going is better than England, but because we know it will be hot.
If this sounds a bit like Ukip speak, well, who cares? Their spokesman was on the radio this morning, the only politician talking about it, but then we all know what Ukip is beyond the chain-smoking, beer-swilling Farage: a party of the far right occupying the void left by the BNP. St George’s Day should not be the province of “fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists” as David Cameron famously and accurately described Ukip members. It should be our day, too.
Anyway, Farage isn’t a very English day, either, is it?