23rd April 2011. A pretty average Saturday; classic mid-spring warm weather, frisbee at the park, drinks in the pub, West Ham get terrorised by a title chasing team. Until I woke up today, I didn't have a clue that today was also St George's Day. And I bet a lot of you reading this might be the same. And to be brutally honest, I can't blame you. We cant even use the Royal Wedding hype as an excuse for forgetting: if we're honest, it's like this every year. As Englishmen, we're naturally quite conservative and well mannered. Modest, even. We won't celebrate our own British-ness unless it's thrown in our face, we're members of the 'English Defence League', or, in rare cases, actually care about our patriotism! We celebrate the patron saint's days of other countries. For St Patrick's day, we do as the Irish do and drink! On November 30th we celebrate the Scottish way and feast on haggis and the like! For the patron saint of Wales we do as the Welsh do and sh... well, I'm sure we celebrate that, too somehow. It's not that we aren't proud of who we are. Being English, and not British, is a huge part of my identity, as well as the fact I call myself a Londoner. We just don't have any particular things to celebrate. Honestly, as Englishmen, what is unique to us? Stereotypical, even? I know there's the classic Americanisms of 'afternoon tea' and 'bad teeth' but neither of those are true (although it is proven that, between 1993 and 2003, the amount of 12 year olds requiring braces rose by 9%). Even the more complimentary stereotypes like being well mannered aren't particularly fair. If you go to Lakeside on a Saturday afternoon, you'll find a general populous worse than that seen when you cross the guys from Jersey Shore with Mos Eisley Spaceport from Star Wars episode IV. And that's one wretched hive of scum and villainy. Face it. We just aren't all that original. But if someone asked me why I was proud of a country that doesn't have Guiness, Haggis, or a 'love' for sheep, I wouldn't be short on answers. A country that's produced the beautiful game in it's highest calibre, The Beatles (and The Rolling Stones: I'm not taking sides!), the funniest comedy shows in the world, Poppin's Cafe (they're growing, theres about 10 about now, check them out!), and the Mitchell brothers amongst many other things gets a huge tick in my book. I'm sure it will in yours, too.
Over and out.