Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Raise a Glass to Greatest Little Country

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Raise a Glass to Greatest Little Country

Article excerpt


REMEMBER that you are an Englishman, and have consequently won first prize in the lottery of life. Those words have been variously attributed to Rudyard Kipling, Winston Churchill and Alfred Milner, but seem most likely to have been uttered by the great imperialist Cecil Rhodes.

No doubt that is enough to discredit them in many eyes, but they provide a fair summary of my own feelings as today's representative of the "why oh why" tendency.

I love my country dearly, despite the massive efforts made during my lifetime to change its character beyond all recognition. I most definitely do not share the apparently widespread belief that we should regard our history chiefly with shame.

We have punched far beyond our weight in bringing civilisation, order and enlightenment to the planet, and even when the work of destroying England itself is complete, we will leave behind the great legacy of our language, the richest in human history.

True, its magpie nature means that it can sometimes descend into meaningless gibberish through the importation of modish phrases. In my own trade, "cutting edge" public relations firms now like to use the "iconic" words "thought leadership" to describe what they are peddling: same product, different packaging, higher price.

But the true essence of good PR remains the application of common sense.

Say, if you happen to be working for the British Prime Minister, pointing out that it is not a great idea to make a profile-raising trip to the United States on the same day as the Pope.

So back to poor old England. Our sporting teams are generally pretty useless, and the national church would be a standing joke if it had not made itself so completely irrelevant. Our real masters in Brussels do not recognise the existence of England at all, preferring to operate through what they grudgingly call "the English regions". …

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