Archive | Culture RSS feed for this section

Vuvuzela… enough already

14 Jun

It is official. My dislike for the vuvuzela has officially turned to hate.

It is ruining the world cup atmosphere for me (SA rugby stadia already have a ban on them) FIFA decided to allow them even after the complaints after the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup held in South Africa. There was talk of banning the vuvuzela for the World cup, fans and commentators complained about the noise. The South Africans however claim this plastic 60p horn (massed produced in South Africa & China) is part of Authentic South African football and culture.

The world cup is different nations, their teams and supporters coming together in the worlds greatest sporting event. Each nation brings its own brand of support, samba and Latino music, gutteral German singing, the English marching band – all the nations bring a unique atmosphere to the game. This world cup the atmosphere of the entire competition is the sound of a 90 minutes traffic jam.

However painful the sound is to me on TV and radio, I am thankful that I am not in the stadia. Listen to how the vuvuzela sounds stood among them, imagine 90 minutes non-stop (paying £100’s if not £1000’s to attend the game). Try and listen to the full 2 minutes, how do you feel about another 88 ?

Now compare to a crowd singing.

Football games, stadia, players and a crowd are normally symbiotic. The stadia sound rises and falls through the passage of play. Supporters encourage their team if they are struggling, mock the opponents, cheer good play. The vuvuzela just results in 90 minutes of flat droning, there is no ebb and flow. I have heard people say the fans just need to sing, but it is simply impossible to be heard above the horns

What a shame that South Africa with such a history of dance, music and song will be remembered for a cheap plastic tube. It is not even an original concept, South America crowds used them for decades – thankfully they have the sense to use it sparingly.

You can vote to ban it though sadly it will be to late.


On, on, you noblest English…

12 Jun

Today is also the anniversary of the re-created Shakespeare Globe Theatre as well as England’s first World Cup game of the 2010 finals. I will keep my sentiments simple, a quote from William Shakespeare’s Hamlet “Do it England!”.

I am sure William would be cheering the England team. He could connect with these players performing in front of 60,000 eager fans, England’s popular theatre for the ‘common man’. The sentiments of ABE (anyone but England) from Scotland and Wales would not worry Shakespeare, he would cut them down, waving his pen like a sword, penning a piece of English cutting wit and pride.

When the world cup is over however he would be unfamiliar with the way that Englishness vanishes over night. The playwright lived during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I this ‘mere English’ woman who instilled a sense of pride and passion in England. Europe feared this rising England, this land of god and man.

I suspect he would be disappointed in English pride. A land where our historians now depict Elizabeth as “short-tempered, sometimes indecisive ruler, who enjoyed more than her share of luck”.

After the World cup is over, those supporting England will settle back into their daily lives, a flutter of pride or disapointement in their chest. The rest of the country will continue to chip away at England, ever more determined to prevent these ‘mere English’ any chance to establish themselves politically or nationally.

England and Englishness has been reduced to something that comes out at sporting tournaments. I hope we can win this tournament, it will give us time and new found confidence. The least it will postpone and prevent people from trying to destroy this last bastion of England.

Coalition destroying England….

8 Jun

England, thousands of years of History, achievements unmatched, it’s world legacy for good and bad alive and shaping the world today. England that many love to hate, many love to blame, many want to destroy. People having ill feeling towards England, wishing to erase it, stop its contribution to history (and slowly erase all knowledge of its past contributions) is nothing new. What is new, is the current and present danger of the Coalition currently governing Britain (and therefore England).

Torque contacted Nick Clegg when announced he would be in charge of answering the West Lothian question for the government. The following reply from Nick Clegg’s office.

“We recognise that devolution to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland poses difficult questions for the governance of England within the Union. I think it’s important to be honest about the fact that it is difficult to find an immediate solution. The idea of ‘English votes for English laws’ is extremely complicated to implement – particularly because many laws actually extend to England only in some parts, while covering other parts of the UK in other areas. Given the fact that changes in spending on English services which would be devolved in the rest of the UK directly affect the devolved administration’s budgets, it is also often the case that ‘English’ legislation actually will affect devolved issues outside of England.

We believe that we can only really deal with this question by looking at it as part of the wider political system. We need to do more, first of all, to give more power to people locally in England – so that they, too, have more control over their own affairs rather than being micromanaged from Whitehall. We want to give local communities real power over their health services and policing, through fairly elected local health boards and police authorities – as well as freeing the hands of local councils, removing power from Westminster and Whitehall. Ultimately, we want to move towards a federal United Kingdom – devolving power within England further and thus resolving this question”.

Lets us be perfectly clear. The Coalitions head of the ‘West Lothian Question’ proposes the same solution as Gordon Browns nations and regions. The nations being Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, the regions being East Midlands, East, Greater London, North East, North West, South East, South West, West Midlands and Yorkshire and the Humber.

When you hear “Ultimately, we want to move towards a federal United Kingdom – devolving power within England further and thus resolving this question.” it is not giving power to England, but bypassing England. Nick Clegg’s preferred solution eliminates the possibility of an English Parliament. There will be no national governance to transfer to an English government. You no longer have a country, you are a region, ruled by an assembly, controlled by a British government which is part controlled by the European Union.

England will have no unified political representation, so it will of course need a thriving present, historical and educational representation if not to disappear into the footnotes of history.

So what do we have ?

Supermarkets that use the national flags of Scotland and Wales but not England to sell goods. English produce is marked with the British flag. Even after campaigning it is hard to get supermarkets to change as they openly say the Celtic fringes will not buy English marked produce.

Charities and organisations operating solely in England refuse to use England in their name, instead they opt for the false and misleading ‘Britain’ identity.

Local authorities and councils ?

Whilst in Scotland “The Saltire should be flown every day from Scottish Government buildings”. How many government buildings or local authorities fly the flag of St.George ? How many celebrate St.Georges day (and the few who do, compare the budget and size to that dedicated to St.Patrick’s day or the annual gay Pride parades).

So who can we look too ? The media ? Well the BBC certainly will not help.

“Reporting the Beijing Olympics, the media, and in particular the BBC, continued to announce medal winners as Welsh, Scottish, Northern Irish and British, but not English. In its CEEFAX August 19th 2008 bulletin the BBC described Chris Hoy the triple gold medallist as ‘the Scot’. However, it described Victoria Pendleton the triumphant women’s sprint cyclist Olympic champion from Bedfordshire as ‘British’, not once as English. In the first week of the Games both BBC reporters and BBC CEEFAX described Nicole Cook who took the first gold medal for the British team as Welsh, but Rebecca Adlington who achieved two gold medals in swimming only as ‘British’, never English.’ What is the agenda for denying the identity of England and English achievers?
The presenter of a recent BBC programme called Thomas Tallis and other mediaeval English composers British when they were unequivocally English.”

Will the BBC start referring to athletes as the “South West Olympic gold winner” I doubt it, it will be “British Olympic gold winner”, and the BBC is not alone, as the recent Channel 4 Genius of Britain shows.

These organisations know what many in England refuse to accept. Britishness has been dumped and given up on in Scotland and Wales, the campaigns to preserve it is only happening in England. England is being dismantled, its bones used to support a unionist British political identity that simply has no flesh beyond the halls of Westminster politicians and academics. If England is not recognised now, it is unlikely to be recognized in the future. It will eventually die out, leaving only the past.

So what of the past ?

The devolved nations promote their history in schools and use taxpayers money to promote and fund historical celebrations. Each year Scotland aims to promote itself. Scotland alone had over 400 events to promote, its history, culture and economy. This year Scotland is promoting its food and drink produce. Wales is promoting its history and learning Welsh is mandatory until the age of 16.

Where is the English equivalent ? England has only seen an erosion of our history taught in schools. With the coalitions push for schools to be free from a dictated national curriculum, the teaching of English history will only demise even more over time. If the British government is supposed to be the English government, then why are they not promoting English cultural and historical events or championing English produce ?

Be under no illusions, this coalition government will do whatever it can to keep the Union embers glowing, even if that entails throwing England on the fire.

Keep Eng… Britain Tidy

3 Jun

Keep britain tidy

I have a bit of a love hate relationship with Keep Britain Tidy. Love because, well how can you object to the principle of keeping litter off the streets and open spaces of England. Hate because of its name, an organisation that operates only in England called Keep Britain tidy goes against every ‘bat sense’ I have.

Keep Britain Tidy announced a campaign with the start of the 2010 World Cup. This follows a poll that found “people think England is the ‘dirtiest’ country taking part in the tournament”. How nice !

It is hard to harbour much ill feeling towards an organisation that comes up with campaigns like ‘We don’t need Messi, C’mon England, Let’s keep it tidy!’ or to argue against their aims when  litter “costs £780million every year to pick up each year… more than it cost to build the new Wembley Stadium!” however….

The latest campaign uses the flag of St.George as well as the encouragement of “‘Have some pride, C’mon England, Let’s keep it tidy!’” I know the organisation has pride in England, hence why it does not wish our streets to be litter strewn. I wish they would go a step further and show that pride in their name, become ‘Keep England Tidy’ (I would love them much more).

I can understand some  have a nostalgic reason in keeping the name (created in 1955). The organisation has however changed its name on a few occasions. In 2001 they became ENCAMS (Environmental Campaigns). In 2005 they changed again when they started to work only in England with ‘Keep Scotland Beautiful’, ‘Keep Wales Tidy’ and ‘TIDY Northern Ireland’ falling under the devolved nations responsibility.

In June 2009 they changed their name yet again, the perfect chance for a new Keep England Tidy – Alas they instead chose to revert back to ‘Keep Britain Tidy’ (for an organisation operating only in England). This is where my love for them turned bitter-sweet.

So in Scotland they chose ‘Keep Scotland Beautiful’, in Wales they chose ‘Keep Wales Tidy’, in Northern Ireland they chose ‘TIDY Northern Ireland’ in England they chose ‘keep Britain tidy’…….. which is my biggest pet hate – Britain is NOT England, England is NOT Britain. So I am afraid my love hate relationship with Keep Britain Tidy continues.

England, a sense of Englishness

2 Jun

English ethnic and civic nationalism is growing in England,  however an enemy is hampering their progress, and taking the ground from under them. The enemy ? Each other.

When there is a fight with political parties, when policy gets forged, the public engaged, positions decided there is an absence of English Nationalist ( they are off-screen pulling each others hair). When the press pack melt away, their stories ready to print, the English nationalist are not part of it, our story to the public remains untold.

The reason is both groups have their own ideas and policies, some the same others very divergent. For us to get our message out we need to put aside the differences, and work on the common ground. There are too few of us to have more than one strong camp.

How do we get what we want ? Well how about we look first to our borders at the Welsh immigration experience.

In the mid 1700’s Wales was relatively poor, its population low, its future bleak. However money from the British Empire was finding its way to Wales, the start of the industrial revolution in Britain started to bring opportunities. This led to a need for a new work force

“Such was the rate of growth at this time that South Wales absorbed immigrants at a faster rate than any where in the world except the United States of America. Up until the 1890s, many of the people who moved into the Coalfield were from other counties in Wales… After the 1890s, many more immigrants came from England, particularly from Somerset, Gloucestershire and Cornwall. People also came from further afield, such as Ireland, Scotland and even Australia….Two statistics tell the story: in 1801 the population of Glamorgan was 70,879 – in 1901 it was 1,130,668. In 1851, the population of the Rhondda was 1,998 – in 1911 it was 152,781”

There was at first a lot of friction, integration did not happen. The immigrant populations brought their own religions, customs, traditions and institutions in Paul O’Leary’s book he says

“there was little evidence of Celtic solidarity and the Irish often met with violent hostility from the Welsh. Nevertheless, by the late 19th century the tortuous process of integration was well under way…. criminality and drink… the establishment of community institutions ranging from Catholic churches and schools to pubs and bookshops, from friendly societies to political organizations; the mobilization of support for Irish nationalist organizations”

The Welsh culture and sense of nation is as much a melting pot of ideas and people (from the United Kingdom and parts of Europe) as England today. The people of Wales however have a strong sense of being Welsh, of history and tradition even though many will have very little Welsh ancestry. The success in integrating people into your society is time, and a sense of what your nation is. You can forge a sense of nationhood, it however needs a framework in place to guide the communities and people.

This imagined community of a country is a construct. Even in a small nation like Wales most people never know, meet, or even hear of most of their fellow countrymen. Any concept of national identity is not innate and unchanging, but fragile, contested, and constructed over time… In the decade before the First World War, the rate of immigration into Wales was second only to that of the USA…. Any recognisably separate identity to that of England would have disappeared into the footnotes of history. Over a period of four generations, from the late 18th to the early 20th Century, these immigrants were thoroughly absorbed, creating a melting pot that gave birth to a unique culture. A culture which defines “Welshness” far more keenly than any bardic ceremony.”

England is undergoing population and cultural change unprecedented in our recent history. A sense and culture of Englishness can and will ultimately emerge. We need the institutions of England willing to take their place and help engage and promote this culture. If your own government and institutions do not promote (or actively derail) a sense of nationhood, then there will be conflict and disharmony. The constituent parts of communities fight to stake their own claims, this then becomes a fragmented divisive nation.

Wales once a nation with little future and sense of self, emerged with a keen sense of culture and nationhood. Built on the back of (not held back by) immigration. We now have Welsh descendants of those from other parts of the UK, considering their ancestral nations and people as foreign.

Some Welsh people who would say, actually, that the immigration population is 50% because there are all these English people that have come here who are undermining our communities and pinching our housing and so on…. Cymuned, the pressure group that campaigns for the Welsh-speaking heartlands, welcomed Mr Wolfendale’s comments. “We welcome the fact that the DCC realises that moving so many people from England to Wales does have an impact and that it should beconsidered by the [British] Home Secretary Charles Clarke as part of the government’s immigration policy,” says Aran Jones, chief executive of Cymuned. “The Welsh Assembly needs to act to ensure that people living in Wales learn Welsh or at least have the courtesy to try and understand that we have our language and culture.”Mr Wolfendale says that much of the increase is due to the fact that thepolice are actively encouraging people to come forward and report hate crime of all types, not just race crime.”

English nationalist can create this sense of nationhood in England,  there are specific policies that we can agree on. We need to start this policy of integration into a shared inclusive Englishness and nation hood. The beginning of our journey can be on the same path, we do not have to choose the fork in the road until we safely get there.

St.George flag ban reality

30 May

England Flag, St.George

The reported England flag ban (St.George flag) and banning England shirts has seen a lot of internet rage lately.

The anger started when the Sun reported police guidance issued to pubs in Croydon suggesting a dress code (preventing football shirts being worn). The Police denied suggestions they were trying to ban England shirts. However when the authority responsible for your livelihood issues guidance on your conduct, or business they have more gravitas than mere ‘suggestions’.

None of this bothered me. A paper prints a story, people get outraged, the story denied, more outrage at the reporters and then the next step ensues. The denials such thing exists. The sanctimonious start pointing at those who believed such bans possible. Believers in these stories are labelled stupid and gullible (whilst also conceding such bans have happened in the past).

“These days you’re never more than a couple of clicks away from debunkers quick to squash these kinds of stories, though it’s worth pointing out that debunking a myth that people find believable and which fits to their prejudices can, surprisingly, make people believe the myth all the more. And while it’s (partly) true that England shirts have been ‘banned’ in the past.

You would expect those not taken in by the outrage of the original stories to be above the ignorance or pettiness, they are more ‘tolerant’ and ‘intelligent’…..

“You know, once it might have been intellectual shits and giggles to laugh at these cretins from the sidelines. But now, when groups like this can canvas this much interest, it’s time to worry. Something has to be done about the festering ignorance and prejudice of these morons, I’m so sick of all this. “

“Some of my facebook friends joined one of these groups. I put them straight and then de-friended them.”

I am guessing they were not really friends then, or you are just as odious and intolerant as those you ‘de-friend’.

“I’m always amused by how the people who shout loudest about being proud of being English are generally the the people who are least able to spell English words correctly. “If there affended they shood go back to there own country” etc.

If people had actually looked at the facebook pages linked to the very story they read and commented on. They would see mainly young children and teenagers. Their writing skills not developed, their spelling and grammar poor (even more so than normal when typing on a computer or phone, for a quick facebook comment).

Many will be like me. Received at best an average (if not damned right awful) education. We were never destined for an academic life, taught the basics, patted on the backs and told good luck. So yes a lot of people have poor spelling and grammar, many since leaving school will never have picked up a pen (short of filling out a form or two once a year).

The ‘intelligent’, liberal posters are quick to attack people for believing an untrue story as stupid, racists and uneducated. The same people who a generation ago would mock uneducated mill workers, farmers, tin and coal miners. People unable to read or write, having to sign their names with a X. How dare these people have a view (no matter whether right or wrong), look at how they express their thoughts – uneducated plebs.

“the flip side of this kind of thing is that it also brings out the nasty snobby side of lot of supposedly liberal people – check out the comments on the Liberal Conspiracy post on this topic, where there’s no shortage of people claiming anyone who wears an England shirt is an inbred idiotic racist.”

Here is the important part few liberals in their eagerness to shove their own bigotry down to print explore.

“The question here is not so much the particular incident sparking this internet outrage, but why people were so eager to believe it. Is it really beyond the realms of possibility that England memorabilia could be banned from venues ?”

We have seen these type of stories for over a decade. The papers are tapping into feelings of resentment that already exists. If any other group religious or ethnic felt so wronged or persecuted (whether rightly or wrongly), there would have been action. The English however have no such protectors or guardians in political or charity organisations. There have been many situations where the English have felt under some sort of concerted threat from politically correct organisations or political parties. We are to be subdued, not supported.

A simple sentence, act, piece of legislation could solve some of this. Instead time again we get…..

was not raised due to a “logistical operational matter “ “Health and safety won’t allow us to do it, unless we scaffold the building.
“That costs thousands of pounds and I’m sure the taxpayers of Colchester wouldn’t want us to spend that to put a flag up.”

One assumes that they have never heard of a steeple-jack or a cherry picker (presumably some of whom/which the council use and own).

“In 2008 St George’s Day parades were banned by local authorities in Bradford and Sandwell in the West Midlands on the grounds they could cause trouble or were ‘unhealthy’ and ‘tribal’.”

“A spokeswoman for Land Rover in the West Midlands said: “We asked them to take them down because we are a diverse firm and to allow England flags to be displayed would have meant allowing flags of other competing nations to be put up as well.”

“Anne Owers has banned the flag of England from prisons because muslim prisoners might feel threatened by the guards wearing pins of the St. Georges Cross, which is the Flag of England, as the flag was used during the Crusades. As we all know, muslims did not fare well during the crusades. The pins were sold as a fundraiser for a cancer charity.”

When the Church of England again feel they can fly the St.George. When Council buildings in England actually fly the St.George like their counterparts in Wales, and Scotland fly their national flags. When companies and organisations actually recognise that they work, operate, and make profits in England (from the English). Having a St.George displayed occasionally is not going to harm or bankrupt you.

When I start to see these things I will know that we are heading in the right direction. Because there is something distinctively wrong in England. It is bubbling below the surface of English society, the underlying cause of these feelings needs to be found and addressed before it to late.

Oak Apple day (29th May)

28 May

Remember Oak Apple day, wear your sprig of oak leaf or apple tomorrow to celebrate.

Oak Apple Day, Garland King

Oak Apple Day or (Royal Oak Day) is celebrated on the 29th of May commemorating Charles II, and the restoration of the English monarchy in May 1660.

The day is also known as Shick-Shack Day or Arbour Day. Traditional celebrations entail the wearing of oak apples or sprigs of oak leaves. The reference being (the future) Charles II of England escaping the Roundhead army by hiding in an oak tree near Boscobel House.

The celebration has sadly nearly died out, as with many holidays a casualty of Oliver Cromwell’s puritan policies and later Victorian British society values (Oak Apple day was abolished in 1859).

Whilst the day chosen (29th of May) was the King’s birthday, it seems to have also replaced some of the prior traditions and events lost in England. For example the Garland King is celebrated as a rider decked out in greenery marching down the streets of Castleton. This seems in keeping with the nature and pagan festivals once much more common in England, sadly now mostly lost in time.

Restoration of Oak Apple day would be worthy of continued celebration, a celebration of our freedom, liberty and nationhood that the Puritans had all but destroyed (sound familiar ?).

Wear your sprig of oak with pride, enjoy a traditional English plum pudding and remember to never bow to tyranny.