It’s still only a little over six years since I resided in the UK, but there are already news stories in which I now struggle to recognise the land of my birth.
The precise difference between “The UK”, “Great Britain”, “England” etc has always been a source of great confusion to outsiders – this video by C. G. P. Grey does a good job of clearing up the differences:
Now on the outside, looking in, I see that the Scottish are coming closer to independence, whilst curiously at the same time “Team GB” means that both English and Welsh footballers (soccerball kickers) will be representing the same nation at the Olympics this year.
In the midst of all this, the fact that none of the individual nations that make up the UK have their own national anthems – they all share the turgid dirge that is God Save The Queen.
It’s a confusing time to be British, and Prime Minister David Cameron has evidently decided that this is the perfect time to suggest that England adopt its own national anthem – his suggestion? Jerusalem – Sir Hubert Parry’s musical take on William Blake’s rather well-known words:
And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England’s mountain green?
And was the holy Lamb of God
On England’s pleasant pastures seen?
And did the countenance divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among those dark satanic mills?
Bring me my bow of burning gold!
Bring me my arrows of desire!
Bring me my spear! O clouds, unfold!
Bring me my chariot of fire!
I will not cease from mental fight,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand,
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England’s green and pleasant land.
Far be it from me to agree with a Tory, but it’s quite a good tune – dark sanatic mills and all. Perhaps it would perk people up a bit.
And in an England where I read of the Olympic embargo on non-McDonalds chips, an England where I read that Bruce Springsteen and Sir Paul McCartney had their microphones turned off for singing after 11pm in a Saturday night concert, an England in which a Frankenstein coalition government is quietly dismantling the NHS, having already made free education a thing of the past, and in which the populace react with a “tch” and a sigh and a “well I suppose we should vote the war criminals back in next time around then”…
In that England, I think people could probably do with a little perking up.
I shall be visiting once the Olympics are over. Sing along.