Thursday, 16 April 2009

Any idea as to when England's St George's day falls?

The answer is April 23 - in other words this coming Thursday.

That's the day set aside for the patron saint of England (among other countries around the world), but I won't expect too many people "back home" to be celebrating.

You see it's not a national holiday and barely gets a mention, but even though I'm not especially patriotic and certainly not an English nationalist (heaven forbid) I thought I would bring it up all the same as it rather highlights how nonchalant the English are about the whole thing.

Land of Hope and Glory ?

I don't just own dogs, I'm also a bit of a mutt myself - a British one I mean.

My mother was Irish, my father Welsh and I was born and brought up in London, which of course makes me English as well as British.

As yet I've not managed to trace any Scottish ancestry, although family legend has it that when my grandparents on my mother's side took the boat from Eastern Europe bound for the United States, they were quite literally "sold up the river" and landed in Dundee.

Anyway that's all rather beside the point, except maybe that it means when following rugby and football internationals I can switch allegiances depending on who's winning.

There are of course patron saints for each of the countries making up the UK.

For obvious reasons I have to give Scotland's St Andrew's day a miss (November 30), which I believe is a national holiday there.

But I do remember St David's day for Wales (March 1) although I rather baulk at the idea of wearing a leek, and I could never forget St Patrick's day (do I really need to give the date?) - and yes I realise that Ireland (Eire) isn't part of the UK, but Northern Ireland is, and he's the patron saint of all the Irish.

Like many fellow Englishmen and women however, I invariably forget St George's day.

In fact I would even go as far as to say that I actually had to check before writing this piece as to which day it falls on.

Just for the sake of reminding myself, it's April 23.

All right so I won't be flying the flag of St George (a red cross on a white background) outside my house as a) I live in France and b) I'm not really given to displays of fervent nationalism.

Mind you I doubt whether there'll be many to be seen across the channel either as it's not really the sort of thing the English "do" - well apart perhaps from during international sporting events.

In recent years there have been moves from organisations such as English Heritage and the Royal Society of Saint George to encourage the English to don their glad rags and celebrate, but as always mostly the calls have fallen on deaf ears.

It seems that as a whole the English are predisposed to almost complete indifference about the day and perhaps on reflection that's not too bad a thing.

Isn't their just something a little over the top about all that flag-waving and "pride" in one's nation?

After all do the English need to define themselves by having a national day to remember who they are? And anyway what does being English actually mean especially in what is supposed to be a multi-cultural society?

Cricket, warm beer, roast beef, yorkshire pudding, bangers and mash, fish and chips, scones and tea with a "nuage du lait" (not all at the same time of course)?

Besides didn't I read somewhere recently that the most popular dish in England now is chicken Tika Masala?

And what does it actually say on my passport? English?


I'm British and therefore a citizen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

When all is said and done though, maybe I'll try to find a red rose to stick in my lapel or if I'm not wearing a jacket somewhere equally appropriate.

Just try to annoy my French friends who haven't a clue what I'm on about and anyway think that Britain is England and vice-versa.

Oh yes and maybe I'll break into a rousing rendition of Elgar's "Land of Hope and Glory" or better still Blake's/Parry's "Jerusalem", just to confuse them even further.

"And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England's mountains green?
And was the holy Lamb of God
On England's pleasant pastures seen?"

Or maybe I'll simply forget.

Or Jerusalem?

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Well at least the Mayor of London was celebrating

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