St. George’s Day, 2014: What does it mean to be English?

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  1. To be English means not minding queueing, warm beer, our lack of a national cuisine, football team capable of winning the World Cup, overcrowded cities, paying the TV licence fee, listening to old folks talking about the War on the bus, endless coverage of the Royal Family in the media, nor the fact that we are now a small country whose time as a global power is long gone.

  2. To be English includes the divine right to moan about the French and Germans (sorry guys). If there were a Constitution, that would be the first Article of Faith. The fact that the French and the Germans have forged modern nation states out of the ruins of post-war Europe rather more successfully than we have is to be ignored and dismissed as wicked foreign trickery.

  3. That said, being English does not mean being a swivel eyed, narrow-minded bigot with a hatred of all things foreign. In fact, being English means celebrating and absorbing the lessons, values and good things which others have to teach, while rejecting those which advance tyranny, inequality, cruelty or oppression, be those ideas be from distant places or born within our own shores.

  4. Being English means accepting that almost every other nation in Europe moans about Perfidious Albion. And they have a point: we’re poor Europeans; our mastery of foreign tongues is usually limited to shouting English; our football “fans” and holidaymakers can behave with disgusting abandon; we espouse laissez-faire Anglo-American economics which the rest of the world is rapidly ditching in favour of more successful and socially progressive models; we unleashed Simon Cowell, Piers Morgan and Jeremy Clarkson on the world.

  5. Unless you are born in our great capital, being English also means the freedom to moan about “That London” (see France and Germany above), particularly about its disproportionate power and the allocation of resources to the upkeep of that great Metropolis.

  6. To be English means understanding that the gentle grey-green of our landscapes and seascapes have an understated beauty of their own.

  7. To be English is not to be a “Little” anything. Being English means by definition being inclusive. We are one people born of many peoples. We are a nation of both immigrants and emigrants.

  8. You need not be born, nor live in England, to be English. To be English is to espouse the principles and spirit of our country.

  9. To be English is not to be jingoistic, nor to use the flag or our sense of nationhood as a symbol of supremacy or exclusion. It has been used as that before, and still is, but that is an insult to the spirit of who we are.

  10. There is no written Constitution which declares what it is to be English. You just know and understand what it means, almost instinctively.

  11. English values change. Their details are not sacrosanct, but their underlying values are. Values of fair play, modesty, and above all, an apparent disinterest in being English.

  12. Being English is not about primarily about the Crown, the Church of England, nor the defence of the Realm. That is what the people who are in charge tell you what being English is about. Being English means thinking for yourself and deciding what being English is for yourself.

  13. Being English does not mean marching down the street waving the Union Flag nor the Flag of St. George provocatively at immigrant communities and telling them you’re English and they’re not. In fact, that’s as un-English as it gets, when you really think about it.

  14. Being English means arriving at your own conclusion of what it is to be English, and therefore, having the right to disagree with everything written above.

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Movie Review: O B L I V I O N

Oblivion-2013-Movies-Poster

Alternative Plot (Tom Cruise friendly, as seen in IMDB)

8/10
Author: Feud S from United Kingdom
2 February 2014
*** This review may contain spoilers ***

60 years ago, the Earth was attacked. We won the war but reduced the planet to Birmingham, or Wansworth, or Stoke on Trent, maybe. We’re the mop up crew. It’s hard work mopping an entire planet. Everyone else is on Titan. I believe that. Just as I believe L. Ron Hubbard was an alien overlord and you can’t tell the difference between Stork and butter. I believe that.

Is it possible to miss a place you’ve never filmed in, a role you were different in, a time you’ve never lived without the aid of greenscreen? We won the war, but now we have to help giant Remington shavers suck up sea water: are the drugs they give us legal, or what? Our commander is Sally, who bears a striking vocal resemblance to Hal 9000, and who we have never seen, but still believe her home spun southern drawl. Victoria and I are obviously morons. Or clones. Or both.

Yesterday, a man who looks like an older version of Morpheus from the Matrix, but sounds suspiciously like the wise old bird from the Shawshank Redemption told me everything I knew was nonsense. I told him not to be so rude about scientology. Then I went to service a droid at a calcified football stadium. Victoria tells me that’s what twentieth century Leeds looked like. On a good day.

When I met the women that I later learned was my original clone’s wife, sixty years ago, before the world fell to the Tet, or the Scavs, or the mongs, I said: Julia, I’m with you, and I don’t know your name; I’m dreaming but it feels real. Like a memory of a dream of a fantasy of a Philip K. Dick short story. What the hell’s that about? I took Vika flowers. She hated them. I cultivated the last flowers on Earth for all she knew, and she preferred vacuum packed rations. You can’t please some people.

But after all I have learned, I realised that everything I knew wasn’t real. I wasn’t real. Victoria wasn’t real. Sally’s accent wasn’t real. And despite being beaten up by myself to save money on stuntmen, I went in search of the house he built. He’s a lousy builder. Did he use a spirit level? I think not. I know that, because I know him. Because I am him. I am Tom Cruise, and I am home. Playing the same part I play in every single movie I’ve ever been in. Clipped, nondescript, slightly odd, beating up full sized men and standing in the shadow of my leading ladies. Standing in the shadow of Legoland cars. We are an effective team.

Horatius said: “How can a man die better than facing fearful odds, for the ashes of his fathers and the temples of his Gods?” I said: “In a rocking chair, aged ninety, drinking beer.”

Splendour

Rhodes Sunset

A Prayer at Sunset

 

Freedom from impossible dreams
Is perhaps a kindness
For in the end, perhaps
The illusion is far more than it seems
Take, Lord, my scattered hopes now
And forgive me my flight to the sun
I understand that this unattainable vow
Will surely never come
Forgive me the times I doubted your name
And to your Kingdom admit one not too wise
But now humble before you, and tired of the game
Let me once more see through your eyes
Let me know peace, and torture no more
For the long night stretches out and I am afraid
Give me the hem of your robes, and I will follow
And forgive me the manifest mistakes I have made
Bless all those who feel this same way
May they also be freed from their blindness to see
And allow them once more to pray
Be rid of their chains, and be free.

Across the rooftops ….

Across the rooftops and over the beams
Over the grime, and the death and the dreams
Here hovers the future, the days yet to come
Above all the shadows here shines the sun
To rise above despair and tawdry cares
Simply walk upwards and ascend the stairs
Climb ever onwards and don’t ever stop
Taking in life from across the rooftops.

Stockport Rooftops

Stockport Town Centre.

London in Winter

SDIM1173 (2) SDIM1180 (2) SDIM1185 (2) SDIM1186 (2) SDIM1191 (2) SDIM1198 (2) SDIM1205 (2) SDIM1209 (2) SDIM1210 (2) SDIM1218 (2) SDIM1223 (2)

I lived in London for five years, and saw the great city in its various moods. I acquired a number of cameras while living in the capital, and one of the most interesting was the Sigma DP1, with its Foveon sensor, lack of anti-aliasing filter and a mere 5Mp at its disposal. The images have an over-worldly sharpness about them at lower ISOs. The DP1 has limited uses: it’s so slow you can’t use it for anything that moves – even a tortoise presents a challenge to the Sigmas. But they come into their own when shooting landscape and cityscape shots, where detail is brilliantly retained. It’s an interesting city to live in … for a while.