I read an article recently which spoke about England and defining "Englishness" which made me think.
England as a country is not all thatched cottages or rolling countryside I know but I think that the author of the article is correct when he says that t"he countryside is fundamental to the idea of England and national identity". Even though most of us don't live in the countryside we love to imagine that we could and what it might be like there. Look at the popularity of Country Living magazine and many others in similar vein.
cricket on the village green (it matters not that I know nothing at all about how the game is played and what the scores mean!)
crumpets dripping with butter eaten by the fire (what fire now many of us don't have a real fire any more?)
somnolent villages with yellow stone cottages clustered together roses climbing round their doors
gardens filled with flowers and vegetables in neat rows
tea as the solution to all life's problems!
history and pagentry
quirky traditional celebrations like wassailing and Morris dancing etc
What says England to you I wonder?
I once had a discussion with my French friend about how it was that I could spot another English person in the supermarket before they opened their mouths and what it is that makes us different from the French. How others see us too is interesting as the French shops often had displays of items and fashions with the title "So British"! Now I have never seen an English person dressed in the fashions they displayed and neither have I seen an English man's home decked out in the items they seemed to think we favoured. Do they really think that we all wear tweeds and pearls and decorate our homes with lurid union Jack cushions?!! But are we not guilty of this stereotyping too and don't all Australians wear hats with corks dangling from the brim and call ladies sheilas? Or aren't all French women slim and incredibly smart and don't they eat frogs legs at every meal? Or are the Irish not a bit ditsy or the Scots mean with their money whilst we ourselves are blessed with a stiff upper lip and are lacking in emotion. How did these ridiculous ideas come about I wonder. Let's hope that by blogging we will learn more truthful aspects of the countries and characteristics of our blogging friends eh?!
Of course people are people wherever they live but there do seem to be certain characteristics which apply more to one race than another and maybe we do seem to be unemotional and cold at least on the outside but do we really love our pets more than our children? We are considered polite (especially as drivers) according to my French friends and our sense of humour is different - I had a small procedure done by an opthalmogist in France and when he had finished I jokingly said "I haven't died then!" and he commented that this is a particularly English humour this poking fun at ourselves and the French take themselves and particularly their health much more seriously!
I think then that we as a race are perhaps:
tolerant (I know this isn't always the case of course),
fair (play up play up and play the game)
eccentric (in the nicest possible way of course!)
self effacing (were we not taught never to blow our own trumpets or to get too big for our boots?)
stoic (I am thinking of the Blitz mentality here and our attitude in the face of a crisis)
What do you think of as our national traits I wonder?