Love England…

Being a proud Englishman is not such an easy card to play these days. Fraught with dangers for its connotations and connections to lots of unpleasant isms; nationalism, colonialism, imperialism…

England are currently the world champion cricketers and last weekend, we had the chance to reign over the Rugby Union world also and this would have been a remarkable feat, albeit both sports being little known outside our colonial past, so not such a big deal really and a dubious thing to even celebrate?

Of course we lost very badly to South Africa – as I predicted would happen in my last blog post but only to continue my form of always being wrong. What a time for such a vein of form to end.

And how the rugby world would have cheered on the Springboks in the final. Anyone but England seems to be the code and even so for the people of the United Kingdom; the Welsh and the Scots and the Irish too, all of which rankles with some of my countrymen but not me. I tend to be a little more sanguine and view this in less unsavoury terms; friendly rivalry perhaps and even as a compliment since such antithesis is very probably borne out of jealousy. And why not? Certainly, England is a country that is easy to be envious of. A tiny country over-endowed with prosperity and advantage: the world city of London. Our judiciary and Parliament (albeit, not so great of late depending on which box was ticked in 2016). Dickens. Shakespeare. Turner. Constable. The Cotswolds. Aston Martin. The Lake District. Wordsworth. James Bond. Football. Tennis. The English language. Oxford and Cambridge. York Minster. The Beatles…

I could go on and on and even more extensively if I happened to mention that I am equally a very proud Brit.

But keeping with England for this short post and specifically my home city of London. Last week, people of instagram might have seen that I played a dinner at the world famous Savoy Hotel – straddling the river Thames and the Strand, it remains a world hotel and a playground for the rich and famous.

Anyone who is anyone has a relationship with The Savoy. In my green room last week, portraits of Bing Crosby, Marilyn Monroe and Marlene Dietrich in the very same room as me.

Downstairs in the bar area adjacent to the ballroom and where I was waiting to go on stage, the list of portraits in-situ was endless and if anything, a little distracting. Monroe again. Laurence Olivier. The Beatles. The Stones. Frank Sinatra. Aretha Franklin. Louis Armstrong…

And then a photo that stopped me in my tracks. An old man with white hair giving a speech at The Savoy who I did not recognise and I needed the help of the accompanying caption.

Charles Chaplin no less. The Charlie Chaplin.

His daughter, Geraldine Chaplin had a small but significant part in The Impossible and I recall at the time being remarkably proud that my son was sharing celluloid with a Chaplin.

Charlie Chaplin was one of the original comedians and a world icon of show business. A star in the true sense of the word. A career which spanned 75 years in which his status was unassailable. Not bad for a boy born in to poverty in South London.

And as an old man – with all his accomplishments, he visited The Savoy to give a speech. Accepting an award most likely or promoting his memoirs and no doubt, the owners of The Savoy would have been delighted to host him and keen to get his portrait on their illustrious wall.

And now I too have my own connection with The Savoy. That I have spoken in the same room as Charlie Chaplin. Not that I am expecting my portrait to join him of course but nonetheless, it felt like an achievement for me.

I felt similarly when I performed at The Royal Albert Hall – thinking of all the greats who have done so before me.

Which is what I mean by London and England and indeed, Great Britain.

What a fabulous place it is. The only place in the world where I would ever want to live.

A magnificent little island of which I am very proud – no matter what ‘ism’ this means I might be accused of. For it has produced far more to be proud of than to be ashamed of and why I am always curious when people run it down.

Like so many people, I would have dearly liked to have seen England prevail in the rugby but that said, I can see the greater benefits of the epic South African win. Better for the game of rugby. Better for a country with greater needs than our own. A rugby team being captained by a black man, Siya Kolisi  – to a victory which hinged on three black players – the prop Tendai Mtawarika and two imperious wings – Cheslin Kolbe and Makazole Mapimpi.

If England were to lose to anyone, I can see that such a loss to such a country and in such circumstances is a good loss.

So with heavy heart – my heartfelt congratulations to South Africa.











18 thoughts on “Love England…

  1. Kirsten says:

    I’ve just started reading your blog, and I have to say that I love it. Once you read one post you have to read the others. So just want to say thank you

    • Kristen says:

      Congrats on the Savoy!! What an experience to savour.

      There are certainly many reasons to be proud of the country in which you live, and I, in my naivety, would think you should be free to be proud of such a place without being judged for it.

  2. Ingrid says:

    Well said! Our boys did good and should be proud of their achievements, but yes huge congratulations to South Africa.
    Loving reading eclipsed by the way and yes my teenage daughter is still embarrassed by her mum stalking ways!! (Can’t wait to tell her in the morning how I’ve commented again!)

  3. Laura says:

    Do you make more google related money if you have more swipe ups via Instagram or is it okay if I just visit the site normally and just enjoy the front camera chin pictures as they are?

  4. Cumbyevans says:

    I didn’t realize Geraldine was Charlie Chaplin’s daughter, I love finding out these interesting little nuggets.

    Although a first generation Canadian, I have always had a great love and appreciation for England, it’s history is remarkable. I am very proud of my British roots.

  5. Charlotte R says:

    It pains me to admit South Africa deserved the win, but it’s true. England are known for playing their best game before their most important one (as seen with the All Blacks win). It would’ve been nice to have a cricket and rugby world cup win (especially as the final was on my birthday) but I guess we can’t win them all!
    I find it frustrating that being proud to be British is seen as borderline xenophobic these days. We are a small nation but we have done some incredible things and I do6nt think that’s anything to be ashamed of. I’ve always had trouble articulating how I’ve felt about the subject, but you seem to have phrased it perfectly for me. Gone are the days when people would queue to sign up to fight for their proud country (truth be told, I hope they wouldn’t have to regardless). I am and always will be proud to be British.

  6. Regina says:

    I think Americans have been enamored with the English for years (especially the accents) Until it’s American History class, a tv show about the Revolution, or July 4th. Then we are quite happy to paint England as the most villainous nation to ever colonize a country. Outside of that, we are eager to fall in love with the years and years of entertainment and entertainers that you’ve produced. Someone, I think the English people and the country itself are separate in our minds. Just my jumbled thoughts on a Monday evening. Great post as always.

  7. Pamela says:

    So I did have to check to see how the final was going. I’m from the States so I can truly say I know nothing about this sport. I was hoping that you would be proved wrong. I thoroughly enjoy your blogs and as you said you have much to be proud of your homeland! I enjoy your books and have read 3 of them. I’m currently reading Cherry. I have a son who was in Iraq the same time as the main character, Nico. He was stationed at Camp Fallujah for 15 months. He even made his best man speech from Iraq for my nephew’s wedding via phone call!! Thankfully his experience was very different. He could have come home a changed young man because he was a sniper, but he was able to come to terms with what happened over there. He now flies Blackhawk helicopters. His dream was to always be a pilot.

  8. Stacy says:

    I enjoy reading your blog. I look forward to reading it while I’m at work. It makes my day better when im having a bad day. So thank you.

  9. Kate says:

    I love your perspective (& your writings)— English pride yet outward adoration. From the states, as well, & have to say we do think highly of that island across the pond. I finally get to visit London this year!! Have you ever wanted to live in America ?

  10. Paul says:

    Well, it’s unlikely cricket or rugby will ever be popular here in the states, but perhaps someday England will learn the game of Baseball and there will truly be a World Championship series. You might have heard that the Washington DC Capitals just won the title (where I used to live). But its not truly a World Series since all the teams are from the United States (except for one from Canada). As for Rugby here in the States, our have you seen all the protective padding, helmets, guards, etc our ‘football’ players wear? They seem to be afraid of skinning their knees.

    Kudos on the Savoy gig. I agree that you’ll be hanging on the wall too! Looking forward to the book ‘Open Links’. Can it be autographed? (BTW, did you get my email/DM on the other books? Understandably its difficult to reach you).
    Regards and keep em laughing! Paul

  11. Kenisha says:

    I am Indian yet live in England have an appreciation for the British culture as it is well rounded. Yet I wanted to ask something I never understood as for me this is very different.
    Do you support the football club from the town or city that you were born in, the one your family supports or whover is winning when you start to be interested in sport.
    For me this was not the case of football but cricket and IPL and for me almost everyone supports the club of their birthplace.

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