A typical scene this afternoon as England rejoices in its patron Saint! The crowds flock together, gathering happily in throngs dressed in the red and white flag, wearing similar hats, hired outfits, and England football shirts. Well I saw four of them dawdling along, and a maiden (Ha!) underneath a large flag followed by her minder also intent on cheerfully commemorating her saint.
In short they were going for a piss up!
I strongly suspect their knowledge of George from Lydda is faint. His Christian stance that led to torture and decapitation is probably not the motivation for their gathering, and as for their flag originating with Ambrose, one time Archbishop of Milan, well that will be something beyond their ken. The real motivation is 'white van man' racism! This lot indeed come from the lower sections of society, not all do of course, but movements are felt deeper amongst those losing the most. A desperate longing to have a nation to which they can belong is something the Englishman suffers daily. The Scots, Welsh and Irish have no problem being happy with being themselves, the English have no understanding or idea of what 'being English' is all about. Poor souls, jealous of the Celts rejoicing they have in recent years become quite vindictive and bile filled regarding other nations. The inbuilt superiority that dwells within their soul is well at odds with the reality around them. The Englishman sees himself as the dominating member, reality is hard to accept.
A reality made worse by the nation being overrun by foreign folks, many of whom are black! This fact alone has made many an Englishman feel very threatened. Whole towns are now a variety of colours and any who indicate unhappiness are referred to as 'racist!' In fact I very much disagree here. The place in which you are reared does mean something to an individual, if this overnight almost becomes like a foreign country where people with different cultures fill the locality it can indeed, and rightly, be difficult to accept. That is not racist, it is a normal human reaction, colour being a secondary problem. That certainly happened in Scotland many years ago when cheaper Polish labour put Scotsmen out of work, not racist, just human response arose. For today's Englishman, especially those at the lower end finding Poles, Bulgarians and other East European types taking their jobs a natural resentment can arise. Genuine fear over immigration, unbalanced maybe but genuine, stirred by politicians and papers on the make does not help. Scotland rightly demanding independence upsets many English as they continue to believe we are all one happy family, in spite of the reality. Only yesterday several highly intelligent women I met failed to comprehend how Scots feel about the issue, it is something that has not crossed their minds, after all Scotland is so far away, but useful for holidays! 'White van man' reads his 'Daily Mail,' if he is pretending to be 'middle class,' or the 'Sun,' if he is being honest, and finds Scots draining money from his pocket and being ungrateful! That lie shows how little he understands, yet how much the media misuse him for their own ends!
This resentment, and it is strong in some areas, had led to a revival in 'Englishness.' In 1996 they found their own flag instead of using the Union flag as theirs, now it appears at all times, while Ambrose ought to get a percentage I say, and is flown by some at every opportunity to pretend they have a nation.
England is more divided than the mere border that separates England from Scotland. The northern culture is not similar to the south's, and the north is ignored by the rich south east corner. Birmingham, the second largest city, is never mentioned on TV or in the media unless it really has to be mentioned. Yet this from one of the richest parts of the nation! The richest, Norfolk and Surrey pay their own way, all the rest needing grants from the centre, yet these two counties resent their cash going to where it is required, does that make for a nation? The folks in the countryside vote Tory, the towns and cities vote Labour neither caring what the other wants, who knows what the next election will bring after the shambles of the last. Thousands use 'food banks' while others live off benefits needlessly, millionaires fill the cabinet while over two million are desperate for a proper job, London dominates at all times, the rest are an afterthought. This 'England' is not one nation in any respect.
The Scots, Welsh and Irish have their own history, they are well read in this, English history is seen by many as one dynamic victory after another, they are always the 'top dog, and yet the deeper truths of what life really was like for the average Englishman is not what comes to the average Englishman's mind when waving a flag. Scots know all their bad bits, only too well, does the Englishman drinking his European Lager, eating his Curry, and wearing his Bangladeshi made clothes know his nations bad bits? Does it matter? As long as he has a nation to belong to he has a place in the world, a family, even if a stand offish one.
The return to a Saints Day, by a nation keen to be atheistic we are told, is all about being a nation again. But to be a nation you must know what the nation actually is. Those gathered raucously in the pub will struggle to sing English songs, 'Greensleeves' will not suit that establishment I fear, indeed few songs regarding their nation will come to mind. George, lying somewhere underground in Lydda today, will wonder at his name being used in a nation at the ends of the earth. He would wonder a lot more at the confused people wearing his flag, not that he knew it was his flag, and feel a great deal of sympathy for their lost souls.