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Ho! Sing Ho! - Wemyss's Appalling Hobby:
From the Party Guilty of Committing 'Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn'
Ho! Sing Ho!


It is the country that laughs equally when F-f-fry stammers, ah, d-diffidently, Humph of pious memory (oh, do get on with it) grumbled dryly, and, memorably chairing HIGNFY,


Brian Blessèd


said, well, anything, really. (Really loudly.)


It is the country that recently attempted to give commerce a choice of ministers in the major parties – Peter Mandelson or Alan Duncan: wibbly wobbly timey wimey – who each had a long relationship with (wait for it) trade and each of whom, whichever party were in power, would at least never screw the housewife.  (Oooah, that’s yer actual double entendry raht there, that is!  Wingardium fantabulosa!)


It is the country where a competent theatrical career gets you a K and a famously successful one gets you the chance to play the dame in a Christmas panto.  The country where elderly, owlish dons weighing seven stone at best, sing ‘The Red Flag’, and organic farmers in corduroy (‘Ah, Oi were champion muck-spreader that year, I were’) stand as Tory candidates or become famous Conservative bloggers.  It’s the country where miners have a hunt and two of the most famous Tories of the Thatcher years were vegetarian animal-rights activists.  It has an established church no one attends, and that comprehends every opinion known to Christendom and several that aren’t.  Its greatest political thinkers are partisan yet oddly apolitical, and its greatest statesmen often seem not to have thought seriously about anything – except when they do and have done.  It is continually on the verge of breaking up, except that no one can take seriously a nationalism led by bureaucrats, nonentities, and a Third XI Tony Hancock impersonator.


Its philosophers have been brazen tinkers – and contrariwise.  Its best generals hated war, its greatest admirals were either pirates or martyrs to seasickness, and it glories in nothing more than its retreats and defeats: having a habit of losing every battle save the last.


The country invented youth culture and has long fetishised youth from Chatterton to Keats to choirboys to Carnaby Street, and it finds its icons in Old King Cole, Quentin Crisp, aged dukes, Darby and Joan, Queen Victoria, Tony Benn, and the late Bill Deedes, all of them forgiven everything simply by having become venerable.


At bottom, the reason the rational French and the orderly Germans are enraged by it (and even the systematising Yanks are driven spare by it) is simple: it has never made sense, and it’s damned if it’s going to begin now.  It acquired an empire in a fit of absence of mind, and left it with unprecedented relief.  It is as ruthless as its reformers and do-gooders, and as sentimental as its imperialists and its last Queen-Empress.


Its greatest poet and dramatist, who was the most profoundly irreligious poet since Lucretius, was born on the feast day of its patron saint.  It is a great Chesteronian paradox in itself.  It oughtn’t to work, yet it does; and even those who wish it hadn’t owe it more than they can count. 


And so today, let us cry once more, God for Harry, England, and St George.




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2 comments or Leave a comment
blamebrampton From: blamebrampton Date: April 23rd, 2009 01:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
I raised a glass of perry to our good patron saint at lunch, queued meekly in the post office, and gave a Young Person a good Talking To on my way home. While 10,000 miles from any celebrations, I nonetheless feel that I embraced the Spirit of the day.

And a fine one to you.
From: seneska Date: April 23rd, 2009 01:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
A few good words can say so much.

Happy St George's Day m'dear.

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