St Georges Day

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  1. Article in today's Daily Telegraph by Philip Johnston;jsessionid=PXECFD3IRVPDFQFIQMGSFFWAVCBQWIV0?xml=/opinion/2007/04/23/do2302.xml

    Happy St George's Day. You are, no doubt, preparing to wear your red rose to work or are packing the children off to school sporting a corsage of bluebells and primroses that they will proudly show off to their friends.

    Tonight, there will be a splendid supper party with such English culinary delights as Lancashire hotpot or shepherd's pie followed by readings from the works of the Bard, whose birthday also happens to fall today.

    In London, Ken Livingstone will lead the taxpayer-funded celebrations as Morris Dancers and hobby horses process through a capital festooned with flags bearing the cross of St George, while revellers will drink far too liberally of those quintessential flat bitters that knock other, darker, ales into a leprechaun's cocked hat.

    Dream on. This is the day that dare not speak its name. If you turned up at work with a rose in your lapel it would be assumed you were on your way to a wedding. While the Welsh would feel naked on St David's Day without their daffodils or leeks, and the Irish are happy to wander around in the middle of March wearing what looks like a handful of wilting spinach, the English would merely be embarrassed sporting their floral equivalents.

    A Scot reciting Scots Wha Hae or Ye Banks and Braes o' Bonnie Doon might have a tear in his eye and a tremor in his voice; most Englishmen would have trouble remembering more than a few lines written by their greatest writer. And an invitation to celebrate both the English national day and Shakespeare in a combined replication of St Andrew's and Burns nights would be regarded with a mixture of puzzlement and deep suspicion.

    Unless Richard II is being performed somewhere tonight, there will be few extempore renditions of John of Gaunt's speech about "This royal throne of kings, this sceptr'd isle/This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars/This other Eden, demi-paradise...This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England...'' (OK. I looked it up.)

    To be fair to Mayor Livingstone, he has made a gesture towards St George. At the weekend there were a number of events in the capital, including a formal march organised by the Royal Society of St George; and English music and dance was performed in Covent Garden.

    The Globe hosted a birthday party for Shakespeare and the cast of Spamalot, the Monty Python musical, will tonight seek to break the world record for the number of people playing in a coconut orchestra. Now, that must make you feel proud to be English.

    Maybe this is all about to change. On May 3, the Scots will go to the polls and a victory for the Scottish National Party is widely predicted. The SNP will not win an outright majority and will find it difficult to secure a coalition if it insists upon honouring its pledge to hold a referendum on independence: Labour, the Tories and the Lib Dems are all opposed to separation.

    But perhaps there should be a referendum, and it should be held both north and south of the border. This matter needs to be resolved; and if we have to do so in the 300th year of the Union, so be it. If the SNP wins 40 per cent of the vote or thereabouts, why should its promised referendum be vetoed by a party that secures a quarter of that?

    However, British constitutional matters are not devolved to the Scottish parliament. They remain reserved to the national legislature at Westminster. Furthermore, a Union is exactly that: why should the other half of the divorcing party not have a say in the matter?

    So, just as both parliaments of Scotland and England were required to pass legislation in 1707 to ratify the Treaty of Union, which took effect 300 years ago next Tuesday, so should the people of both countries have a say if there is to be a parting of the ways, and do so with their eyes open.

    The principle of self-determination means, of course, that one country could not stop the other doing what it wanted. But the SNP, as far as we know, is not proposing unilateral secession.

    The received wisdom has always been that, in a double referendum, the Scots would vote for independence and the English to retain the Union. I suspect the reverse is the case. An opinion poll just before Christmas indicated that while the Scots would like the nationalists to be part of the government in Edinburgh, they did not want separation. Yet, at the same time, there was an exceptionally high level of support in England for a breach.

    How has it come to this? Fifty years ago, the question would never have arisen. Not until the late 1960s, around the time the first barrels of North Sea oil came ashore, did the SNP make any breakthrough. Devolution was a bid to arrest what was seen as a slide to independence.

    Instead, it probably hastened it. Is anyone surprised when we made so little attempt to defend the integrity of the Union which, with all its flaws, was one of the most successful and enduring political systems in the world, the foundation of an empire, the crucible of democracy and enlightenment?

    For goodness sake, which other nation would celebrate its 300th birthday in such a mealy-mouthed way, with the minting of a £2 coin, and that's it? Do you remember the spectacular bicentenary parties thrown by the Americans in 1976, or the French in 1989?

    Where is the pomp and circumstance we do so well? Where is the leadership? It was all well and good for Messrs Blair and Brown rushing to man the barricades with panicky articles in this newspaper a few weeks back; but the fort had been overrun while they slept.

    Even though some polls suggest a joint referendum held tomorrow might result in separation, a campaign in which the arguments were fully debated would probably pull the peoples of both countries back from the brink, though it would be a close- run thing.

    At least the people of England should have a say in the matter. As Chesterton said, they have not spoken yet.

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    So ladies and gentlemen of the jury, should there be a public holiday in England on St George's Day?
  2. As I'm from the correct side of the Pennines, Lancashire Hotpot isn't on today's menu... but we will be having Roast Beef and Yorkshire Puddings, with a couple of bottles of Black Sheep Ale :p

    But as Will nearly said: a roast by any other name, would taste just as yummy :p :p
  3. B_AND_T

    B_AND_T LE Book Reviewer

    When I am allowed to fly my George Cross without being classed as the grand wizard of the Klu Klux Klan things might change.

    Edited twice because it's a Monday morning , what do you expect!
  4. But what about St Andrew's Day, St Patrick's and whosname, the Welsh bloke? As a jock in London, do I get St Georges Day off or St Andrew's? Wouldn't a national holiday celebrating either all the saints or a day of Britishness make more sense? bring us all together rather than pushing us further apart in this multicultural pot-mess we live in

    Either way, have a good day lads! :D
  5. Who would your patron saint of the United Kingdom be then?
  6. Saint Jeremy Clarkson of Berwick-upon-Tweed...

  7. Typical Brits we make a non Brit our patron saint.

    He was a soldier of the Roman Empire, from Anatolia, now modern day Turkey.

    St George Of Turkey!!

    But give me the day off anyway.
  8. Who gives a fcuk where he came from?
    If I was bismirching some "foreigner" the lefties would be all over me, but its ok for other people to "knock" old George.
    Well I am up for a beer......
  9. St Michael?

    St Jude - patron saint of lost causes :wink:

    or just a general 'Saints Day'
  10. All Saints - that one's already taken - 1st November.
  11. why try to find a joint day and saint for the UK when it should be more a case of finding out why we (the english) are discouraged from anything approaching pride in ourselves?

    the scots, welsh and irish are all encouraged to celebrate nation days but the oppressive overlord english must not...



    rant over.

    probably to be continued! lol
  12. If you're on the market for a new English patron saint, how about St. Alban, the first Christian martyr in Britain (from Hertfordshire), whacked by the Romans around the year 250 for professing his faith?

    He's a native lad, noted by Bede...and how could you pass up a chance to annoy the Italians?
  13. "There is a forgotten, nay almost forbidden word, which means more to me than any other. That word is ENGLAND." - Sir Winston Churchill
  14. Winds of the World, give answer! They are whimpering to and fro--
    And what should they know of England who only England know?--
    The poor little street-bred people that vapour and fume and brag,
    They are lifting their heads in the stillness to yelp at the English Flag!

    Must we borrow a clout from the Boer--to plaster anew with dirt?
    An Irish liar's bandage, or an English coward's shirt?

    We may not speak of England; her Flag's to sell or share.
    What is the Flag of England? Winds of the World, declare!

    The North Wind blew:--"From Bergen my steel-shod vanguards go;
    I chase your lazy whalers home from the Disko floe;
    By the great North Lights above me I work the will of God,
    And the liner splits on the ice-field or the Dogger fills with cod.

    "I barred my gates with iron, I shuttered my doors with flame,
    Because to force my ramparts your nutshell navies came;
    I took the sun from their presence, I cut them down with my blast,
    And they died, but the Flag of England blew free ere the spirit passed.

    "The lean white bear hath seen it in the long, long Arctic night,
    The musk-ox knows the standard that flouts the Northern Light:
    What is the Flag of England? Ye have but my bergs to dare,
    Ye have but my drifts to conquer. Go forth, for it is there!"

    The South Wind sighed:--"From the Virgins my mid-sea course was ta'en
    Over a thousand islands lost in an idle main,
    Where the sea-egg flames on the coral and the long-backed breakers croon
    Their endless ocean legends to the lazy, locked lagoon.

    "Strayed amid lonely islets, mazed amid outer keys,
    I waked the palms to laughter--I tossed the scud in the breeze--
    Never was isle so little, never was sea so lone,
    But over the scud and the palm-trees an English flag was flown.

    "I have wrenched it free from the halliard to hang for a wisp on the Horn;
    I have chased it north to the Lizard--ribboned and rolled and torn;
    I have spread its fold o'er the dying, adrift in a hopeless sea;
    I have hurled it swift on the slaver, and seen the slave set free.

    "My basking sunfish know it, and wheeling albatross,
    Where the lone wave fills with fire beneath the Southern Cross.
    What is the Flag of England? Ye have but my reefs to dare,
    Ye have but my seas to furrow. Go forth, for it is there!"

    The East Wind roared:--"From the Kuriles, the Bitter Seas, I come,
    And me men call the Home-Wind, for I bring the English home.
    Look--look well to your shipping! By the breath of my mad typhoon
    I swept your close-packed Praya and beached your best at Kowloon!

    "The reeling junks behind me and the racing seas before,
    I raped your richest roadstead--I plundered Singapore!
    I set my hand on the Hoogli; as a hooded snake she rose,
    And I flung your stoutest steamers to roost with the startled crows.

    "Never the lotus closes, never the wild-fowl wake,
    But a soul goes out on the East Wind that died for England's sake--
    Man or woman or suckling, mother or bride or maid--
    Because on the bones of the English the English Flag is stayed.

    "The desert-dust hath dimmed it, the flying wild-ass knows,
    The scared white leopard winds it across the taintless snows.
    What is the Flag of England? Ye have but my sun to dare,
    Ye have but my sands to travel. Go forth, for it is there!"

    The West Wind called:--"In squadrons the thoughtless galleons fly
    That bear the wheat and cattle lest street-bred people die.
    They make my might their porter, they make my house their path,
    Till I loose my neck from their rudder and whelm them all in my wrath.

    "I draw the gliding fog-bank as a snake is drawn from the hole,
    They bellow one to the other, the frighted ship-bells toll,
    For day is a drifting terror till I raise the shroud with my breath,
    And they see strange bows above them and the two go locked to death.

    "But whether in calm or wrack-wreath, whether by dark or day,
    I heave them whole to the conger or rip their plates away,
    First of the scattered legions, under a shrieking sky,
    Dipping between the rollers, the English Flag goes by.

    "The dead dumb fog hath wrapped it--the frozen dews have kissed--
    The naked stars have seen it, a fellow-star in the mist.
    What is the Flag of England? Ye have but my breath to dare,
    Ye have but my waves to conquer. Go forth, for it is there!"

    -THE END-
    Rudyard Kipling's poem: The English Flag
  15. Excellent post :thumleft:


    Oh, to be in England
    Now that April's there,
    And whoever wakes in England
    Sees, some morning, unaware,

    That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf
    Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf,
    While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough
    In England - now!

    And after April, when May follows,
    And the whitethroat builds, and all the swallows
    Hark! where my blossomed pear-tree in the hedge
    Leans to the field and scatters on the clover

    Blossoms and dewdrops - at the bent spray's edge
    That's the wise thrush; he sings each song twice over,
    Lest you should think he never could recapture
    The first fine careless rapture!

    And though the fields look rough with hoary dew,
    All will be gay when noontide wakes anew
    The buttercups, the little children's dower, -
    Far brighter than this gaudy melon-flower!

    Robert Browning (1812-1889)