From man’s sweat and God’s love, beer came into the world

I’m in The Field magazine this month, writing on the subject of saints of the countryside. As Christmas approaches we all find ourselves drawn into a more traditional way of life informed by religion, whether we like it or not. It is not just that we are brought together with our extended families, or that many non-believers will attend church as a nod to their ancestors. It is that, for the only real time of the year, our… Read on

I’d like an English national day when we all go around muttering ‘sorry, sorry’ while getting barged into

I love the ancient tradition of celebrating St George’s Day with flags and parties, which dates all the way back to about 1998, when it was invented by card companies and brewers. Before Scottish and Welsh devolution, probably not one person in 100 could name this day; until Euro 96 you’d almost never see the St George’s Cross, either, except on Anglican churches. Then Happy St George’s Day cards appeared in the shops, and it became a national day, with… Read on

The depressing rise of English nationalism and the decline of British patriotism

Happy St George’s Day, everyone! I love all the old St George’s Day traditions – newspaper articles asking what Englishness means, stories about councils banning St George’s Day celebrations, ultra-tedious Guardian pieces about how the “real” St George was Turkish or Palestinian and this only shows how vibrant and diverse English identity has always been and can we get Mary Seacole in there? Another recent tradition we’ve come to love is Labour politicians saying we should “reclaim” our flag from… Read on