This royal throne of kings, this scepter'd isle,So said one of the greatest intellects the world has ever know - William Shakespeare. I could never in a million years have come up with words to match those but I am not in the slightest ashamed to say that I am proud to be English. There are so many reasons why being English makes me so happy that I feel sorry for anyone who is not English. I don't think that is a sign of xenophobia, nor should it be considered a patronising remark. It's merely a statement of my feelings.
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
This other Eden, demi-paradise,
This fortress built by Nature for herself
Against infection and the hand of war,
This happy breed of men, this little world,
This precious stone set in the silver sea,
Which serves it in the office of a wall,
Or as a moat defensive to a house,
Against the envy of less happier lands,
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England.
Anyway, here are 25 of the reasons why I am pleased to be English and to live on this wonderful island.
- Our constitutional monarchy. It might be a system of government that would fail in other countries but it works for us.
- Our free press - despite all the attempts by politicians to muzzle it.
- The pound sterling - lots of 'em!
- The white cliffs of Dover.
- Fish & chips.
- The varied scenery. A journey of 50 miles can take you through at least five different types of landscape.
- The climate. We might moan about the weather but we don't get extremes of heat or cold, drought or flood. Well, not usually.
- Real ale. I don't often indulge these days but proper beer brewed using hops and barley is far superior to that lager they make on the continent.
- It's easy to get a nice cup of tea.
- English justice. It may not be perfect but there's none better - and we don't have capital punishment.
- The Beatles.
- Malt whisky. OK, so that's Scotch and not English but at least we are close to the source.
- Ours is an island but it is too large to be claustrophobic while being small enough to get from one end to the other quite easily and quickly.
- The Royal family.
- Rolls Royce.
- The South Downs.
- Strawberries - English ones!
- Steak and kidney pudding.
- Royal Marine bands.
- Morecambe and Wise. They might be dead now but their comedy still makes me laugh.
- The English language, surely the richest tongue in the world, which I learned so easily and not as a foreign language.
I'm sure - indeed, I know I could come up with more without having to try too hard but that's enough for anyone to be going on with. Meanwhile, back to those white cliffs. First, as seen from in the Channel, then as seen from across the Channel between Calais and Boulogne sur Mer (just visible under the cloud on the horizon).