St Georges Day. As I write this the sun is out so there’s every chance my face will be various shades of red and white, if so it won’t be by design. I’ll celebrate it by doing nothing different to the norm, apart from maybe using it as an excuse to up my tea intake for the day. See, i’ve never really understood patriotism or nationalism. When a concept divides people and teaches them to hate those that they don’t know or understand then I struggle to see its positive influence on society.
I feel lucky to live in the UK, I love and appreciate the fact that I was born here, would rather live nowhere else on the planet, and in no other generation than we do now. I think the UK has a soul that most other countries can’t match. I like our weather (it has character), our music is the best in the world (we never spawn and nurture megastars as sickly and twisted as the likes of Justin Bieber), I even like our transport system. Living in London you never have to wait more than 3 or 4 minutes at a bus stop, that’s pretty good, and then when you do get on the bus the average journey is awe-inspiring for those like me who like to dabble in the art of people-watching.
That’s another reason to love the UK, the people. I think there are more interesting characters per head of the population than in any other country in the world, and with those characters firing off against each other I think we’re also blessed with the best sense of humour in the world. I’m convinced we’re the only country who sends round millions of jokes the second the latest over-hyped celebrity dies. I think that’s an incredibly cool culture and is born out of the art of laughing in the face of adversity, something we seem to have perfected better than any other nation. It helps to give you strength, and it’s so much cooler and creditable to take strength from that instinctive attitude rather than from that other oh so divisive concept, a belief that an invisible man in the sky is looking out for us every step of the way.
My beef is this. For a lot of people St George’s Day is an excuse to spout about how they’re ‘proud’ to be British. I love the UK but feel no pride whatsoever in ‘being British’. Pride should surely be attained by achieving something – flying out of your mothers womb in a certain country doesn’t seem a notable achievement worthy of shouting about. The whole concept of National Pride spawns unanswerable questions, and that in itself usually indicates that the belief in question is largely misguided. Ask someone why they’re patriotic or why they’re proud to be British and it’d be almost impossible to receive a logical response. The fact that a lot of us don’t question why we hold certain beliefs suggests a level of brainwashing somewhere along the way. Indeed we’re pounded with the flagstick of our nation almost from birth and many go on to happily kill and die for their country, not questioning why they’re doing so and what their country actually means to them. As much as I love living in the UK I can’t imagine being in a position where that attachment to a flag means that I’d go to war. Even if you get carried away with the task in hand and merrily kill other human beings you’ll be left with images that will then torture you for the rest of your life, all this in the name of the owners of your country that care not a jot about you and will toss you to one side once your duty is done.
Half of the above views are mine, and half are courtesy of Frank Noon, the protagonist in ‘The Chronicles Of Hope’, a series of Political Fiction books featuring a visionary, humanitarian working-class genius politician. The first book, ‘2082’, is an Amazon bestseller with the eBook still 99p for a limited time.