Just a few nights ago I was in a crowded pub surrounded by average sized people in giant leprechaun hats, watching jigs break out to the tune of Irish fiddles.
Admittedly the Guinness offers might have had something to do with it, but love was very much in the air for St Patrick’s day. So much so, in fact, that recalling it the morning after was – like too many great parties – probably a challenge for most who attended.
And it was then that I realised that our memories of St George’s day were probably equally as hazy, but for a very different reason.
I had to look it up in order to write this piece, and I discovered that the day of our patron saint falls on April 23rd this year. That’s only five days before my own birthday and yet I had no idea it was so fast approaching.
So why the ignorance?
The internet nearly convinced me that the day is, in fact, celebrated. But I soon realised that the event in Trafalgar Square that supposedly draws people in from far and wide every year, had gone completely unnoticed by me until right this minute.
In reality, I can’t remember any parties, festivals or even theme nights marking St George’s day.
When I think of patriotism in England, I think the Armed Forces, the Olympics and the fleeting weeks during the Football World Cup in which nearly every car on the road is dressed up and paraded about in red and white flags.
Is the latter really how we can best match the Irish, with their iconic and magical mascot, happy-go-lucky attitude and drink-til-you-drop celebration?
I’m not sure the English and our stiff upper lips can compete.
But then I’m reminded of a monologue about our country that was penned by the great British writing talent that is Richard Curtis, for the token English actor, Hugh Grant, in the typical Brit-flick rom-com, Love Actually:
“We may be a small country, but we’re a great one too. The country of Shakespeare, Churchill, The Beatles, Sean Connery, Harry Potter, David Beckham’s right foot… David Beckham’s left foot, come to that…”
And so it goes on.
Now I know St George and the dragon slaying has been slightly overlooked there, and that we can’t technically claim Sean Connery as our own (although James Bond is another matter), but the others represent just a few of the reasons why England deserves a bit more of a party in its honour – at least once a year.
So with that said, what’ll it be? Pimms, anyone?