This post was first featured on Scarlett Rains Guest Blog Spot 4 August, 2012
I cannot say, hand on heart, I have ever been totally ashamed of being British, but certain events over the years have made me somewhat reticent to declare my nationality with even a modicum pride.
Football hooliganism at home and abroad is probably the first which springs to mind, followed a close second by the general behaviour of the Englishman/woman abroad in sunny locations where alcohol and drug fuelled violence seems to have become the norm. No-one has told them it is not, and so they continue. The law being on the side of the criminal as opposed to the victim is another one that rankles, and the rising knife and gun crime demonstrates a complete lack of accountability on the part of all concerned. No-one wants to accept responsibility for anything anymore. And the act of allowing terrorists to live in our midst because their human rights may be violated if we throw them out of the country, beggars belief! Where did these do-gooders come from who aided and abetted the downfall of the country in this way? The economy is in shreds and poor people just keep getting poorer whilst the rich – well you know the rest. Sometimes, there seemed no end to the bad things!
Then came 2012!
Following her grandson’s very popular marriage to Katherine Middleton in 2011, Her Majesty The Queen’s own Diamond Jubilee descended upon us. And what a wonderful and grand series of celebrations we were treated to. The river pageant was spectacular. One thousand small craft floated down the Thames along with The Queen’s barge. Amongst them the surviving boats which rescued the troops from Dunkirk in 1940. Nice touch! People across the country and in London held street parties of their own, and once again the nation was united.
Now we are in the process of hosting, brilliantly I might add, the 30th Olympic Games.
I watched the first scenes of the Opening Ceremony with a great deal of cynicism. Major fail coming our way, I thought. Then the Orchestra played Elgar’s Nimrod, and I was hooked. From then on the whole shebang seemed to go from strength to strength. The Industrial Revolution with its rising stacks was a feat of absolute genius, as were the flying bicycles and Rowan Atkinson ‘playing along’ to ‘Chariots of Fire’ – hilarious! There was so much to watch and admire. I must say I was a tad disappointed to see them trotting out Paul McCartney, yet again. Apart from his being out of tune, it is time to use a little more imagination when it comes to the ‘star turn’ in these events. There is so much talent out there!
But for me, Danny Boyle’s greatest coup was getting Daniel Craig together with H M. What a thoroughly good sport she really is. Rubbish actress though! I actually read a comment from someone who thought “it was positively disgraceful to allow a woman of her age to jump out of a helicopter”! There’s not a lot you can say to that!!
But, we are not done yet!
One of the largest and most wonderful annual events is still to come – The glorious Last Night of the Proms. – The fabulous culmination of eight weeks of daily orchestral classical music concerts. This splendid spectacle, now a cultural institution, has always filled me with pride and emotion. It truly is Britain as it’s best as a nation. Multitudes of people fill the parks of London and elsewhere across the country, and in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland (a happening now known as the Proms in the Park). Individually, each venue has its own show with well-known artists. Huge screens are erected at the various sites with the evening coming to a close with a live link-up to The Royal Albert Hall for the greatest sing-along on earth.
Traditionally we hear the same familiar tunes towards the end. Strains of Hubert Parry’s Jerusalem, Sir Henry Wood’s Fantasia on British Sea Songs and Thomas Arne’s Rule Britannia fill the air. Then, the sublime climax as hundreds of thousands of people join together to sing Land of Hope and Glory (Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance). All incredibly emotive!
When it comes to any form of pomp, circumstance or celebration, no-one can outdo the British. We were made for it. When things get tough we are still able to come together and make merry, and bring ourselves some joy amongst all the angst, the stress and the mess, fostering the sort of nationwide camaraderie we could do with so much more of.
Yes, when all is said and done, I am very proud to be British!
Amelia Curzon is an author, blogger, mother and lover of all animals, great and small.
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