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Laurence Inman’s Blog

FOR ENGLAND AND ST GEORGE

23-04-2009

This being April 23rd. we’re celebrating St George’s Day – or at least some of us are. Laurence Inman wonders why.

I’ve just been reading Julian Barnes’ meditation on death, Nothing To Be Frightened Of. In it he recounts being in Birmingham Art Gallery looking at the painting of Christ displaying his wounds, by Petrus Christus, when a man and his small son hurry past.

‘Why’s that man holding his chest, Dad ?’ the kid asks.

His father replies, ‘Dunno.’

It’s easy to scoff, but can any of us truly claim that our response to most history, art, politics, economics, dentistry or bike maintenance is anything more than ‘Dunno’ ?

Take St George, whose ‘day’ it is today.

Why is he the patron saint of England ? Dunno. Who was he ? Dunno. Did he wear shiny armour and slay a dragon ? Dunno. Do dragons exist, or have they ever existed ? Oh yes.

And why is St Patrick connected to Ireland ? Now, I know this. He rid the place of snakes. But why ? And how ? And where did they all go ?

Dunno, dunno and dunno.

St Andrew. Scottish. Wore a kilt ? Had a thistle in his button-hole ? Dunno.

St David: did he eat leeks and grow daffodils ? Could it have been the other way round ? Dunno.

What I do know is that today some tattooed fat blokes in white tee shirts with red crosses on them will march around somewhere proclaiming that ‘their’ country is the best, but only as long as we keep certain undesirable elements under control, or better still, exclude them in the first place.

They will be encouraged by the latest ‘security’ fiasco. A dozen or so people were arrested and interrogated for two weeks, on what specific grounds we don’t really know. The papers said they planned to blow up shopping centres and night-clubs. The operation to round them up was discussed in Downing Street. Yesterday nearly all of them were released without charge. But we can still sleep easy in our beds, because they could well be deported.

I think we should celebrate the people who really encapsulate Britishness, not some cartoon knight on a horse.

There’s the brewers and distillers, who make billions keeping us in a state of catatonic compliance.

The senior police officers who build their careers on fear and lies and whose political shenanigans would shame a Latin American junta.

Their junior minions who kill innocent bystanders, hit women in the face and hide their ID numbers.

The press, who like to blather about our hard-won freedoms and then support every measure which the madmen who govern us introduce to destroy them.

Let’s use April 23rd to praise some real heroes.

Tom Paine. Robert Owen. John Lilburne. William Walwyn. John Wildman.

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