Every year there is a flap about the fact that no-one ever remembers when it is, and it's not fair that there's no bank holiday, and we aren't patriotic like the Irish or ... well just the Irish really ... and it's a public disgrace, etc etc etc, blah, blah. blah, and EVERY year it sneaks up on us, causing a nation to rise up, as one, and say, "oh, is that today?"
I like a bit of patriotism, me. I like a bit of Rule Britannia. Singing Jerusalem makes me a bit tingly. I bloody love that crazy bunch of Greeks and Germans that are our royal family. And even I forget when it is. We're just not very good at celebrating our Englishness in England.
Don't get me wrong. Come the World Cup, I can guarantee that every second car will have a George Cross clipped to the back window, and you'll not be able to walk into a pub without hearing the tribal cry of, "In-ger-lund, In-ger-lund, In-gur-lund," but I have a sneaking suspicion that this isn't quite the same thing.
During the last World Cup, I heard a lot of references to, "the England football flag," (including one advert in a national tabloid newspaper, which should remain nameless*). Somehow I managed not to beat each person around the head as they said it, and shout, "it's not a football flag! It's your national flag, you great frigging chimp!" But you see why I'm not entirely convinced that this particular brand of flag waving really is patriotism, in the oldest sense of the word, because I don't believe that they know that's what they're doing. Bless them.
Now I'm not saying that I think that St George's Day should be a bank holiday, because, as it happens, I don't. Mainly because we already have a few around now, so it would probably be surplus to requirement. But I do think it would be nice if people knew a smidgen about our patron saint.
He's a fairly well loved dude, is George. He is patron saint to eight countries, two Spanish autonomous communities, twenty cities, boy scouts and skin disease sufferers and syphilitic people. Which is nice.
He was a soldier in the Palestinian army of the time, but one day the man in charge, in a move of questionable sanity, said that everyone in the army who was a Christian would be arrested, and our George didn't much like the sound of that, so he objected, and was arrested, lacerated on a wheel of swords (the new ride at Alton Towers?), then had his head chopped off. What a day!
I'm not sure when he slayed the dragon. That must have been whilst he was in the army I suppose. Palestine was crawling with dragons in those days. Rather amusingly, when I googled images of dragons to insert in the post at this point, the one on the right was one of the top in the search. I'm not sure, but I don't think that's a real dragon.
Anyway, happy St George's Day, one and all. I hope you're all eating boiled beef and carrots, and drinking warm lager, whilst wearing your Morris Dancing uniform, and waving handkerchiefs in the air.
God save the Queen!
* No it shouldn't. It was The Mirror.