Friday, 23 April 2010

What is Englishness?

National Trust: St George's day has got us thinking - if you're English (or if you just want to chip in) what does it mean to you to be English?
Things that are quintessentially English for me: diversity, fair play, daft humour, Doctor Who, Monty Python, subversion, radicals, Nonconformism, individuality, landscape, the National Trust, cream teas, lazy Sundays, Shakespeare, Gerald Gardner, Thomas Hardy, the Golden Dawn, Scouts, Vimto, picnics in the rain, tea & biscuits, eccentricity, amateur dramatics, antiquarians, Gilbert & Sullivan, gin and tonic, punting, suffragettes, Flanders & Swann, JRR Tolkien, Robin Hood, cloth caps, Marmite, beer, Bront√ęs, Quentin Crisp, punks, and moaning about the weather, the state of the economy, and all that sort of thing.

What things do you think are quintessentially English, and why? (please state if you are English or not in your comment - it's interesting to know how we perceive ourselves and how others see us).
O wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!
It wad frae monie a blunder free us
~ from To a louse by Robert Burns

4 comments:

Titus said...

Pubs, Led Zeppelin and Henley. I'm English, and very glad to see you included Marmite, but noticed you missed bloater paste and suet pudding.

Makarios said...

I'm not English--I spent my youth in the U.S. and emigrated to Canada after grad school--but in my own imagination, Sherlock Holmes has always represented the quiddity of Englishness. That, and, as you say, the daft comedies (like "Are You Being Served" and "Keeping Up Appearances").

Yewtree said...

I've never eaten bloater paste or suet pudding, but agree they should be on the list.

The bloke upon whom Sherlock Holmes was modelled was actually a Scot. Sherlock Holmes is altogether too intelligent and too much of a professional to be English. We are dabblers and amateurs who like to pretend to be idiots, like Percy Blakeney. (Not necessarily a good thing, but that's how it is.)

Mungoman said...

What is Englishness to me? Englishness is having a sense of satisfaction in being who you are, an awareness of not having to keep up with the Joneses, and at the same time realising we aren't the Joneses, having respect of where we've come from, and where we are right now. Having a delight in our regional dialects with an understanding of where, and which country they're from.
Englishness is intrinsically a state of being,to me. Born North Staffs, 1953, Australian since 2007.