Sunday, April 29, 2007

Millbrook Celebrates St George

Tony and Sue's annual St George's Day dinner was last night's hottest ticket in town; yours truly and Mrs The Millbrooker grabbed our invitations with eager anticipation of a feast of lovely grub and plenty of Englishness.
We were not to be disappointed on either account.

First up - let's put out a personal view of national pride. Should we celebrate St George's Day at all? After all, most of us frankly don't believe or barely believe in saints as holy figures. Not to mention whether it's OK to express national pride or patriotism.
As a something of a lefty, I find nationalism quite difficult. There's innumerable appalling examples throughout England's history of racism, bullying, warmongering, colonialism etc etc. BUT - the fact remains that I am English and I didn't actually do any of those things myself. I have fought against them in the political arena since my teenage years; remember Rock Against Racism and the Greenham Common Marches?
I like celebrating Englishness, and it certainly doesn't have to be jingoistic or filled with right-wingery. I think we should reclaim St George's Day from its obscurity and make it as widely noted and celebrated as a national day as St Patrick's Day is for the Irish. The Irish
know how to party - but so do Millbrookers!
Anyway - on to the gossip.
Those present for the evening at Parade House were (from L-R in the top photo on the right) Me, Sue, Norman and Tony. And in the lower of the photos to the right - Norman (again), Tony (once more), Nicky (another one, not Mrs Millbrooker) and Peter.

Mrs The Millbrooker succeeded in not being in the group photos by way of having been behind the camera.
Everyone was asked to perform a piece which addressed something of English culture and that's what everyone did. Tony gave us a stirring reading of Tennyson's "Charge of the Light Brigade"; Sue gave us the ever lovely "Daffodils" by Wordsworth; Norman entertained us with some information (much of it new to me) about St George. Nicky (Peter's Nicky, not my Nicky - bloody hell it's confusing) also gave us some new information about St George. Peter read a short and very apt poem, the title of which I'm ashamed to say did not survive the onslaught of much wine on my memory.
I read Betjeman's "Slough" and Nicky (my one) sang us a terrific version of "Johnny Todd".
In between all this performing the conversation may have dipped below stairs on some frequent occasions (not unusual when there's a potty-minded Millbrooker at the table) and the rules of Drunkard's Etiquette were explained to some who'd not come across the idea before. Norman and I had a lively debate over how one should react to the introduction of ID cards and the national security database (at least that's how I remember it - as it was late into the evening it was more than likely a fairly drunken load of drivel on my part).
Tony & Sue did us all proud with a fine meal including the patriotic starter at the top of the posting followed by roast beef with all the trimmings (some very scrummy creamed leeks) and a jam roly-poly pud. The wine flowed freely and copiously; the port followed on. Eventually I had to be taken home before the port got the better of me (I'm well looked after by Mrs Millbrooker).
Thanks to our generous hosts, and once again - let's reclaim St George's Day; it's not the preserve of any political wing and it's a good thing to acknowledge all that is good about one's own culture is as well as being aware of the downside!

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