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THE RED CROSS OF ST.GEORGE

1 Leave a comment on verse 1 0 Buy George, bye George, by George,
It’s my jubilee too this year,
Fifty years of hopes and fears,
And while you couldn’t call my life
A total exercise in active citizenship,
You couldn’t call it total subjection either, I suppose.
But it’s fifty years of being both English and British –
An infant school pupil proudly waving the Union flag,
Proudly marching on Commonwealth Day in 1956;
A small boy growing up with his parents’ memories,
Tall tell tales of true patriotism and killing,
Sitting on his dad’s knee after the pub,
Shooting Japs in the jungle,
Behind pre-fab enemy lines,
Watching “Dunkirk” at the Saturday morning flicks,
Making up the airfix kits
Of Hurricanes and Spitfires,
While the BBC showed yet another Union Jack
Sliding down the pole as yet another colony
Gained its freedom,
As yet another Gold Coast
Became yet another Ghana,
And your brand new stamp album became sad Imperial History.
But in Geography at Grammar School,
You still coloured in the pink bits,
And had debates about Africa,
And whether it was ready for independence,
As you saw the rise of Enoch Powell,
And the march of the London Dockers,
When you went off to University,
As your left wing politics, republicanism
And internationalism now divided you from your parents;
And the rise of the NF, the ANL and RAR
Also meant a similar alienation at the Silver Jubilee,
Whilst war over the Falklands and policy in Northern Ireland,
And the annexation of St. George and the Union Jack
By the racist right hooligans and xenophobes,
Also led to a similar feeling of alienation,
Even when seeing the red cross fly on the local church
On William Shakespeare’s birthday.
But like many of my generation and persuasion,
I have both a visceral and an intellectual patriotism,
A deep love of my country and the conclusion
That this is my England, my England too;
And so I will wear the red cross this year,
(I always wear a poppy)
And I will re-assert the traditions of which I am proud,
And re-emphasise the continuities that I carry,
The traditions of the free-born Englishman and woman,
Of Piers Plowman and Wat Tyler,
The Diggers and the Levellers,
The support groups for escaped slaves,
The opponents of slavery,
The United Englishmen and Irishmen,
The Chartists,
The opponents of Empire,
The Great War Poets,
The anti-fascist fighters in Spain,
The heroes, sung and unsung of World War Two,
The protectors of our environment and heritage,
The campaigners for a pluralist and diverse society,
The ones who are fighting exclusion,
The creators of a new rainbow new millennium Britain,
All those of us who embrace multiple identities,
British, English, European, African,
Caribbean and Asian global citizens –
We take back the Cross of Saint George,
And give it a new inclusive meaning,
For patriotism is no longer the last refuge of the scoundrel.

Written quickly while the subject was on my mind.

Source: http://footballpoets.org/poems/the-red-cross-of-st-george/