Shakespeare Day

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Lend me your ears. We have come full circle, and having cast dear old St George into thin air we are now full of the sound and fury of the good dragon-slayer. But we have seen better days, and this fatal vision makes a laughing stock of us around the world. For goodness’ sake, we are hoist with our own petard, and playing fast and loose with the truth. But every dog will have his day, the devil will have his due and a dragon-slaying Turkish saint is not the be all and end all of national pride. Perhaps we could have something better; a dish fit for the gods. One to whom George can’t can’t hold a candle. You see, the play’s the thing, and one English person did that better than anybody else. Good riddance, George!

The idea of St George’s Day makes me squeamish. National days are for downtrodden people to make a splash of pride, not for a display of hubris. But St George seems to be making a comeback. I’ve seen St George’s Day cards on sale, for heaven’s sake, although I can’t imagine anybody I know sendfing them (but then, nobody I knew voted for Maggie Thatcher, or at least admitted to such an act of folly.) It’s supposed to be a celebration of English values, but I can’t think of particularly worthwhile values held by the English that are unique to them. It tends to descent into a celebration of values that this English person doesn’t hold, such as

a) The Bulldog Breed (small, ugly and pugnacious)

b) Stiff Upper Lip (emotional repression)

c) Tally Ho! (delighting in the slaughter of sentient beings, including extinct species like Draco nobilis

St George may or not have existed, and probably didn’t, and if he did he was Turkish not English, and anyway we share him with half the world including Greece and Russia. William Shakespeare may or may not have existed (but almost certainly did.) He was certainly English, he wasn’t an aristocrat but the child of an artisan, and however fashionable it is now to say “I hate Shakespeare” (and most people don’t, they just hate having him badly taught), he stands for something great and beautiful, peaceful and universally acknowledged.

So, who will join me in celebrating Shakespeare Day? If enough of us do it, it may catch on!

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2 Responses to “Shakespeare Day”

  1. neil h Says:

    Huzzah for the bard of Avon!

  2. Diane/tvor Says:

    While i do love Shakespeare, i also don’t think it’s such a bad thing to have a day to celebrate your nation. Many countries have a day that celebrates their founding, or independence if applicable. Canada has July 1 which was the date our country became one in its own right. I think it’s a nice thing, even if George may have been Turkish. It doesn’t really matter. I guess from my point of view, I’m glad i’m Canadian and i think it’s good to have a day to celebrate that. And no, i don’t like the government we have at the moment, but that isn’t taking away from how i feel about my country as a whole. I recognize that not everyone has the same sense of national pride as i do, though.


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