The English

Err, No.

While new forms of community localism are necessary in England, this is no substitute for making accountable, via election, the existing intermediate tier of regional government. At the same time this tier needs to be given at least those regional powers over transport, regeneration and planning enjoyed in Greater London.

Let\’s start with England getting those powers shall we? Then we\’ll work out what we want to do next ourselves, thank you very much.

The Life of Brian

We are a very weird lot, very weird indeed:

British martial humour remains an odd but enduring weapon of war. In 1982, after HMS Sheffield was struck by an Exocet missile, her crew sang Always Look on the Bright Side of Life from Monty Python\’s Life of Brian as the vessel sank.

Absolutely, totally, bonkers in fact.


How excellent:

The Prime Minister, who has said he wants a new relationship between government and citizens, has begun work on a draft statement setting out what he believes it means to be British, which he will launch in January.

It will be put out to consultation with members of the public invited to give their opinions on his definition of Britishness, said to include such words as "decency", "fairness" and "opportunity".

Insiders said the statement was intended to reflect "the ideals and principles that bind us together as a nation", and will include a list of "great British books" and historical documents that "constitute the essence of our Britishness".

Documents, eh? Why, we could start with this and this.

Add in this as a reminder of what we\’ve historically done to those who have breached those documents and we\’d be getting somewhere I think.

Might give pause to those recommending the abolition of habeus corpus for example, imprisonment without trial maybe.

St Crispin\’s Day

Why not, something to cheer us up instead of enraged contemplation of curs, knaves and scoundrels that rule over us.

Take it away, Willy:

What\’s he that wishes so
My cousin Westmoreland, No, my fair cousin
If we are mark\’d to die, we are enow
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
God\’s will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.
By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
Such outward things dwell not in my desires.
But if it be a sin to covet honour,
I am the most offending soul alive.
No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England.
God\’s peace! I would not lose so great an honour
As one man more methinks would share from me
For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made,
And crowns for convoy put into his purse;
We would not die in that man\’s company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is call\’d the feast of Crispian.
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam\’d,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say \’To-morrow is Saint Crispian.\’
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say \’These wounds I had on Crispian\’s day.\’
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he\’ll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words-
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester-
Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb\’red.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne\’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne\’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs\’d they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin\’s day.

I shall, of course, be raising a glass this evening for today is indeed the anniversary of Agincourt:

However, the French suffered a catastrophic defeat, not just in terms of the sheer numbers killed, but because of the number of high-ranking nobles lost.

Couldn\’t have happened to a nicer bunch of people, eh?

Oleg Gordievsky

He gets the CMG and then says:

Mr Gordievsky has been a British citizen for many years now.

"I\’m more British now than Russian," he said. "Of course, I don\’t have the subtlety and politeness which is typical of Britain."

I\’d say he\’s picked it all up perfectly there.


Being a southern shandy drinking type I have of course never allowed Vimto to pass my lips. But it does seem to be something of a hit in the Arab world.

A BIZARRE series of advertisements has resulted in record sales of a humble British fruit cordial that has become the Arab world’s most popular drink during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Vimto, a blend of fruit juices, herbs and spices, has long been regarded in the Middle East as an energy-boosting accompaniment to the evening meal after a day of fasting. This year, 11 commercials broadcast on Arab satellite television featuring the British brand have become cult viewing on the YouTube video-sharing website and its equivalent in the region,

I think they do in fact have an extremely good marketing department. In the early 90s the canned, fizzy, version was a huge hit in Russia. Lord alone knows why, but there it is.

Well, Quite…

When my uncle bought his Provençal house he called on his neighbour, a farmer in his sixties, and jokingly apologised for the fact they now had "des anglais" next door. The farmer merely responded, "Heureusement, vous n\’êtes pas Parisien."

After all, everyone hates the Parisians.