I used to think patriotism was a little bit pointless. I mean, why should I be proud because I was born on one bit of soil and not another? I didn't chose to be English, I didn't work hard to achieve it, so why be proud of it?
Then I moved away. Having spent four years in Wales (Cardiff, admittedly) and four months in Norway, I'm starting to feel a bit jealous of countries who have national days that people celebrate, rousing national anthems, etc etc. This year I didn't realise it was St George's Day until I was about to go to bed. Would a Welsh person forget St David's day? Would a Norwegian fail to notice it was 17th May? No.
So why aren't English people so proud of their nationality? Well, the hijacking of the St George's cross by facists and football hooligans for one. And obviously the fact that there are a lot of things just not worth being proud of: colonialism, the Iraq war, Jim Davidson...
So what can I be proud of? Here's a quick list: great comedy, inspiring authors (past and present), the ability to take the piss out of anything, great cities, cream teas (that's tea with milk), music, history (and that includes learning from the less favourable parts), supporting the underdog, not whooping with enthusiasm at the drop of a hat, salt and vinegar crisps, being able to walk out of my house and buy food from every continent (bar Antartica) within a 600m radius, multiculturalism, free education, the NHS (when it works), British English, accents...
Having realised that it's not so bad after all, and that maybe, just maybe, I could start considering myself a patriot, I was interested to see that one of my friends had joined the facebook group 'Proud to be English'. The list of things to be proud of was fairly solid, and as my cursor was hovering over the 'join group' tab, I decided to check out the wall comments. I include some examples below:
"WE SHUD BE PROUD OF THE MONARCHY! ANYONE WHO SAYS OTHERWISE AINT TRUELY PROUD TO BE ENGLISH!"
"I HATE ITALIANS COME ON ENGLAND"
"What makes me proud is being WHITE!!!"
"The pc brigade really piss me off, i'd line them up along a wall and shoot the shit out of them as they stand hand in hand with the scroungers that come over here in the back of trucks"
Needless to say, I couldn't bring myself to 'join group'. I might be a little more patriotic than I used to be, but I can still see where there's room for improvement.