Monday, 23 April 2012

St George's Day

Cranmer is right, I think, about St George's Day and the regrettable, if understandable, lack of enthusiasm on the part of the English for celebrating their national patron saint. For a long time our public holidays apart from Christmas and Easter have been detached from anything meaningful.
It's also a huge pity that the St George's flag was allowed to be hijacked irrecoverably in many people's minds by a gang of racist thugs in the 1970s - a period best forgotten in many ways, although, like Charles Moore in today's Telegraph,  I grew up in that rather dismal decade which was marked above all by an overwhelming sense of national and institutional decline and of impending crisis .

Anyway, the poem which follows is quintessentially English - and understated - read here in a spirit of cross-border cooperation (the motto of the old county of Monmouthshire was 'utrique fidelis' and many of us have a foot in both camps *) by the Welsh actor Richard Burton, one of the finest Shakespearians of his day, before he was seduced by Hollywood .... and other things.

* And inclined today - in a spirit of irony, naturally - to cherish belonging to what a recent Church in Wales report on the Welsh language has described as giving the impression of being an 'English imperialist' institution. If  a nationalist is commissioned to chair a committee that is perhaps what we are likely to hear - one might think? 
[link here]

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