The Curmudgeon


Thursday, July 05, 2018

A Worthier Patron

Now that an England team has won a couple of football matches, the time is self-evidently ripe for yet another round of owlish musing about what constitutes Englishness and whether flying the flag is right-on or far-right or both. Since the said flag was stolen from the Genovese and represents a native of Turkey who is also the patron saint of various lesser breeds, perhaps our newly-independent land, freshly purged of foreigners, might consider flying a new one. The usual expedient of rushing back in time, however, may not be advisable in this case. George's predecessor as England's favourite saint was Edward the Confessor, whose major contribution to the national history was to squabble with the country's most powerful family, thereby precipitating a war over his succession and thence the Norman conquest. Not even our post-1966 World Cup record seems to merit such a patron as that.

Since we must have national patrons from the world of fiction, perhaps I might humbly suggest that we mine our famous literary heritage? There is a thoroughly representative candidate whose two-hundredth birthday, conveniently enough, falls in this very year. He was patched together from diverse human material by a sexually neurotic failed god; he couldn't get a girlfriend, bore a grudge against the world and ended up alone. As to his flag, once we have restored the rights of Genoa we may perhaps reclaim from Hollywood the image of that fine English actor William Henry Pratt, whose performances added to the character those fine English virtues, uncanonically omitted by Mary Shelley, of block-headed lumbering and inarticulate noise.


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