But first, a musical interlude:
By David Thomas
PUBLISHED: 10:30 EST, 23 April 2012 | UPDATED: 01:57 EST, 24 April 2012
Dear St George,
Happy saint’s day – hope you have a good one! True, you won’t get a proper celebration like your pals Andrew, David and Patrick. I mean, you’re probably not too jealous of Andy being toasted by a bunch of belligerently nationalistic Scots, or Dave being commemorated by Welshmen with daffodils and leeks pinned to their rugby shirts. But Paddy’s another matter. He’s got the whole world holding marches, dyeing their beer green and pretending that they’re Irish. You’d have to be a saint not to be, well, green with envy at that. Oh, yes, of course, you ARE a saint. But still, you know what I mean.
It’s just your rotten luck that you’re the patron saint of a country that’s dying of self-hatred and shame. Actually, let me rephrase that … You’re the patron saint of a country whose governing elite are dying of self-hatred and shame. I don’t know quite what it is that’s caused the problem. Maybe it’s some sort of guilt at the fact that for centuries the English were really incredibly good at beating other people, taking over their countries, winning wars and generally being top dog. And for some reason our leaders now feel the need to apologise for that.
After all, what did the English ever do for the world? Apart from give it the planet’s most popular language, obviously … and the greatest playwright who ever lived (it’s Will’s day too, by the way) … and parliamentary democracy, common law, the abolition of slavery, the steam and jet engines, the Beatles, Rolling Stones, James Bond and Harry Potter. Yes, but apart from that … and Winston Churchill, Winnie-the-Pooh, Charles Dickens, police officers, postage stamps, the mini-skirt, the Mini car, the Rolls Royce, football, rugby, cricket, tennis, the Spitfire, four of the world’s Top 10 universities and the World Service … Apart from all that – oh, and about 100 Nobel laureates – it’s quite clear that this is an absolutely rubbish country that should spend most of its time apologising to everyone for absolutely everything it’s ever done.