Never be tired of England


Happy St Georges Day.
Did you know that King George III never formally acknowledge the independence of the USA? Therefore, we still own it. Nor did we agree to the full independence of Australia (The Australia Act of 1986, I choose to ignore). Therefore, we still own that too. And when I get there in July, I will proclaim myself Governor of Australia for Her Majesty The Queen. We’ll forget this silly “independence” thing in no time.

The Daily Mail in it’s quest to tarnish Nick Clegg as some great evil, had this to say earlier this week:

“His wife is Spanish, his mother Dutch, his father half-Russian and his spin doctor German. Is there ANYTHING British about Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg?”

It’s amazing isn’t it?
Nick Clegg, the posh English intelligent Lib Dem leader, is apparently an evil foreigner, despite the fact, that he was born….. in Berkshire.
Given that the husband of the Queen is a relative of the Russian tsars, I hope the Daily Mail will soon begin an anti-monarchy quest.

Today is St Georges day.
It is beautiful outside.
I have sat in my garden with a book and a drink sat by me, for most of it.
The reasons I do not fly the St Georges cross flag is something I dislike about the way it has been manipulated. St Georges cross and the Union Jack have been hijacked by the far right in recent years, to show that they aren’t too keen on muslims. It is used by those who keep claiming muslims are out to destroy England, rape your children, punch your grandmother in the face, and ban Christmas. It is from those who use the phrase “it’s political correctness gone mad” to cloak their inherent stupidity and ignorance. “You know, you can’t even smear shit into a a pakistani man’s face in the shape of the cross of St George whilst telling him to fuck off out the Country any more, without the politically correct bias liberal media telling you it’s racist. It’s political correctness gone mad!!!” I don’t want to associate myself with that type of person. Anyone who associates England with “the white race” is disgusting, in my view.

But I do love this country. In fact, I absolutely adore this country. I do not appreciate the far right telling me that I hate this country, simply because I am not a nazi. I do not believe in a singular concept of “Englishness”. My views on Englishness, are pretty post-modern in that respect. I love this country, for my own reasons, which I will now list.

I love the English summer time. I love traditional English seaside holidays. I love the sound of English amusement arcades on the seafront. I love Tudor history. I love being in the city centre for Diwali celebrations. I love the English countryside. I love standing in the sea on the English south coast despite it being freezing. I love the scent of England in the early summer mornings. I love English Christmas, the food, Morcambe and Wise, and bucks fizz. I love red post boxes. I love the majority of the people who are always polite, friendly, and tolerant. I love that I am the grandson of a World War II navy veteran. I love eccentric Brits. I love Camden. I love not understanding a word the speaker says over the tannoy at a local Tesco. I love Newstead Abbey. I love Bradgate Park. I love feeding ducks. I love those little green or red or blue or yellow arm bands the local swimming pools give you, to let you know when your time in the water is up. I love how we are a mash of cultural differences and historical struggles. I love how we cannot go a day without at least one cup of tea. I love Brit pop! I love getting into bed, under a huge new duvet on a freezing winter’s night. I love wearing an England football shirt throughout the World Cup and Euros every couple of years. I love reading the papers before the World Cup that tell me that Wayne Rooney is at his peak. I love not understanding why our clocks go forward and backward every now and again. I love trilby hats. I love speakers corner. I love hearing the sound of an ice cream van. I love that we are part of Europe. I love Devon and Cornwall. I love our charity days like Red Nose day and Children in need. I love the National Health Service. I love that we are a country that still cares for it’s sick and injured. I love that we are a nation of compassion and acceptance rather than distrust, dogmatic individualism and miserable hatred. I love great British comedians like the Pythons, and Spike Milligan and comedies like Blackadder and Only Fools. I love our sense of humour. I love our sarcasm. I love talking to random people on the park when i’m taking the dog for a run. I love our political music like The Clash and The Jam. I love London. I love bike rides around England. I love black cabs. I love that on one long road just outside of Brighton there is a church, a mosque, a synagogue and a gay bar a little further down, and no problems arise. I love that we have minimum wage. I love the BBC. I love how overly excited our papers get when Wimbledon begins. I love our poets like Wordsworth and Byron. I love that Darwin was English. I love traditional English breakfasts. I love that we do not care what our leaders’ religious beliefs are. I love random games of football on the park. I love our regional colloquialisms. I love the words of Shakespeare and Milton.

I highlighted “I love how we are a mash of cultural differences and historical struggles” because I think it raises an important point. We have never been a single culture, that is now being “eroded“. You cannot erode something that is not static. We have always been a mash of cultures constantly updating and changing. There have been times when those in control or those sporting racist and xenophobic views have tried to impose uniformity, but Britain is great because we have always rejected uniformity in that sense. I will give you an example.

For the majority of English history, since the year 0, this country has been Catholic. Our history, is Catholicism.
Before the 1530s, England was a Catholic nation. The Catholic church was a predominant feature of every community within England. It’s Latin mass, it’s imagery and it’s elaborate dressings along with it’s rituals and rites were what defined England. We weren’t really a nation state at all. We were a vassal of Rome, in all honesty. Given that our own King could not divorce without the permission of the Pope, suggests that ultimately, control lay with Rome. The English people liked it that way. That was England. That was our culture.

During the Reformation Parliaments of the 1530s, the preambles to the statutes written by Thomas Cromwell, try to rewrite this culture, to suit their own needs. The break from Rome and establishment of an English Church would have been massive. Within the space of three years during the 1530s, the entire English system of power, law, and the basis of community had changed beyond recognition. The Henrician church and the Roman Catholic Church were vastly different systems of control and belief.

According to historian Sir William Holdsworth:

“The preamble to the Statute of Appeals is remarkable.. because it manufactures history upon an unprecedented scale.”

Anyone who happened to disagree with the King’s god-given right above the Pope, to be “Supreme Head of the Church in England“, was swiftly and quite horrifically dealt with. It did not bother Henry or Cromwell or Cranmer or any of the other reformers within Court, that the vast majority of the English public, did not believe the King had power above that of the Pope. English culture, for over a millenium, put the Pope as their true ruler, and no one else. Catholicism, (which by the way, was brought to us by immigrants – the Romans, after Claudius invasion of the Country) was so ingrained in the minds of the public, that people like Thomas More were willing to die for their opposition to Cromwell’s reform, rather than betray their beliefs.

The preamble by Cromwell, to the Act of Supremacy of 1534 intriguingly tries to force opinion again, rewrites history, imposes the Act as objective truth (so much so that the accompanying Treason Act made it punishable by death to say the King was not Supreme head of the Church, or talk about the Pope being Head before him), and one wonders whether Cromwell would have gone this far, had the Pope granted Henry his divorce from Catherine in the first place:

“Albeit the king’s Majesty justly and rightfully is and ought to be the supreme head of the Church of England, and so is recognized by the clergy of this realm in their convocations.”

I cannot express just how momentous a change this Reformation Parliament truly was. We were now completely cut off from the Church in Rome, and therefore, cut off from Europe in it’s entirety. Propaganda from the government of Henry made it an offence to be Catholic.

A little over fifteen years later, after Henry had backtracked a little, adding more confusion to what it meant to be English; his son Edward was a child, and only allowed to read books by Protestant writers. He grew up anti-Catholic. When the Duke of Northumberland became the defacto King whilst Edward was still too young, the first thing he did, was rid the council of anyone who still held even slightly Catholic views. After Edward died, Mary then tried to revert back to Catholicism and rejoin the jurisdiction of Rome. Elizabeth, after Mary, settled the dispute, and created a settlement that held mainly Protestant beliefs, but incorporated Catholic beliefs too, although the authority of the Pope was still denied.

The point of this, is that we have never been one single minded Nation. We have always been a mesh of different beliefs and forced uniformity. Catholics viewed Protestants with suspicion in the same way that those racists who claim to be pro-British now view Islam. Irrational fear. There is nothing English about it. We have always updated, and we have always been in a constant state of change, there is no single identity. English culture is created by it’s people, and it is changed and updated with every passing generation. The people can be Catholic, Pagan, Protestant, Muslim, Hindu, Atheist, Sikh, Black, White, Asian, Gay, Straight, fat or thin. It doesn’t matter. That is what makes Britain great, and it is the one thing I love most about this country.

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9 Responses to Never be tired of England

  1. Black Flag says:

    And just imagine,

    St. George was an Arab/Turk…..

    ..Born in Lydda – is father, Gerontius, was a Roman army official from Cappadocia, Turkey and his mother was Palestinian.

    Doesn’t that throw a wrench into those English who hate Middle East immigrants …. their patron Saint is one of them darn Middle Easterners!

  2. Yup 🙂 They usually ignore that though. Conveniently.

  3. I don’t want to take you away from everything you love 😦

  4. Black Flag says:

    Ash,

    I think the only thing he loves that can’t be replaced will be you.

  5. All of what I love about England, means absolutely nothing in comparison to Ash.

  6. Justin says:

    First of all I want to apologize for commenting without reading the whole thing. I’m a lazy American and can’t be bothered to put forth effort.

    Second: If Britain wants to claim the US, I would like to see them try to take it back. We could just call up Texas and have an army bigger than the population of all of England (don’t check my facts on that since I just made it up). Then we could just send them to England and even if they couldn’t take over at least they wouldn’t be here anymore ;).

    Third. England has not been catholic since year 0… Christianity reached England in the 7th c. and wasn’t widly accepted until the 8th I believe. The south Saxons held out until the 9th c. if my memory is correct. So at least until the 8th or 9th c. you cuoldn’t call England a vassal of Rome (England wasn’t even a single nation until 1066). But I’m sure you know most of this.

  7. You misread my point, but in retrospect, i may have worded it ridiculously wrong. When I said for the majority of our history from the year 0, i didn’t mean that we became Catholic in the year 0. I meant from the year 0, until 2010, the majority of that time, was spent as a Catholic nation.
    Christianity reached us around the 2nd century BC. They were just persecuted for it, because it wasn’t the Roman way. It became much more widespread after Constantine’s reign, and in England, Wales and Ireland, it was flourishing. So much so, that around the 3rd century ad, there was an organised church in England, but it owed it’s allegiance to Rome, and Roman Laws were pretty much English laws. Catholicism then reigned supreme. But we were certainly Christian, and actually pretty wide spread christianity in England, well before the 8th century.
    No, you’re right, England wasn’t a Nation until 1066. But even then, it wasn’t independent. Rome had a large say over us. The people believed the King was simply a representative of the Pope. The Pope always had ultimate power.
    My point was, during the 1530s, the King’s court attempted to suggest England had always had an independent church, and that recently the Pope had usurped it. They attempted to change history. National propaganda that continued throughout the reigns of all Tudors.

  8. And good point on Texas.
    On second thoughts, you keep it!

  9. I will dress up as a chav sometimes, just to make you feel like you’re back at home.

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