Thursday, 12 October 2017

Do I love my country?

My instinctual answer to the question is, "No". What is there to love about a political entity with a dubious history, at least part of which pitted my ancestors against each other (in Ireland). I see its tremendous flaws - the corruption of its politics, more by vanity and indolence than by money, as few people are able to get into politics unless they are already rich; its class-ridden snobberies; its failure to integrate its parts and regions into one nation; its contempt for intelligence, science, the arts, the hinterland of the mind and the sense of wonder; its new-found disdain for the poorest in its society; its short-termism and "can't do" mentality; its faddish conformity in all things from coffee shops to tattoos. But .... would I leave? No.

So, what is there to love about this land? Here's a random sample, in no order of priority

1. The land itself, and this autumn, the landscape of trees and hedgerows in particular;

2. Euphemism and understatement that falls only just short of outright deceit;

3. Graveyards of our ancestors, almost all in unmarked graves;

4. Parish churches everywhere proclaiming in stone and brick the Divine love and pastoral care that the Church of England no
longer feels;

5. Uniforms - for schoolchildren, medical professionals, clergy, black tie diners;

6. Gardens and allotments tended with such care;

7. A filthy sense of humour which is generally denied;

8. The shipping forecast;

9. The priority of dogs and cats over people;

10. The weather;

11. A Monarchy and House of Lords which have absolutely no right still to be there, but which have clung on through evolution;

12. Free public museums and galleries;

13. The way we all know the aspidistra is part of our national heritage, but few could identify one;

14. "Just a Minute" and "I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue";

15. The Lord Privy Seal;

16. The Thames and the Tyne;

17. Birdlife, from wrens to kites to kingfishers even in suburban Barton;

18. Bluebell woods;

19. The NHS;

20. "The Archers".

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for these thoughts.

    I do love the Country, I was born here and warts and all, I belong here. I identify as a Londoner (Cockney), but with a broader view a I have spent most of my adult life in different parts of the UK as well as living in Europe for 9 of my years.

    I value the traditions of my Army Alma Mater, because I spent 43 years in it, including four wars, only one of which I actually fought in. I can't argue for Glory,rather for the peace, which every soldier has been in war, wishes for. Perhaps it's why I stayed so long?

    Its more about the family tradition in the Army, where you look after your mates, because when the chips are down, they are all you have. The mutual inter-reliance breeds a type of friendship and fellowship that you miss when you become a civilian, because rarely do you find it among the workplaces you enter, marked by your service experience, many feel stranded, don't cope, and end on the streets or in prison.

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  2. When describing one's country,first mention its faults. How very British.

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