There'll always be an England
It appears that the problem with tracking "recently updated" blogs isn't going to be fixed anytime soon, so in order to encourage you (and me) to vary your blog diet, I've reconfigured my main blogroll to display in random order.
So for the first time in a while, I visited the blog of the Social Affairs Unit, a British non-profit that "addresses social, economic and cultural issues with an emphasis on the value of personal responsibility." Their blog features long-form analysis and critiques of popular culture from that perspective.
Often the articles there paint a bleak picture of modern British culture, particularly the violently dysfunctional multigenerational welfare class documented by Theodore Dalrymple, but one essay from about a week ago was hopeful and heartwarming and gave me goosebumps. It's an account of an afternoon, two days after the July 7th London bombings, at a "living history" museum in London's St. James Park, commemorating the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II. The exhibit featured re-creations of an encampment in Burma and a performance of wartime popular music.
S. J. Masty writes that the crowd that day was as interesting as the exhibit -- young families and WW II veterans, but "no sign of the English youth that one grows so accustomed to seeing in London nowadays, none of the slovenly, the slouching, the surly, the ill-mannered, the dead-eyed."
I don't want to spoil the essay for you, but it was touching to read. I had heard that patriotism in Britain is dead, deconstructed along with the monarchy and the nobility, the Established Church, and hunting to hounds. I had heard that British traditions are regarded as quaintly embarassing and are being overwhelmed by cultural influences from America and Europe. But it appears there is a remnant who are still proud to sing of their country's glories and blessings, and perhaps the terror attacks of last week, which were attacks on a culture with a heritage of liberty, have given them the confidence to cherish their country openly and unabashedly.
As I said, I got goosebumps when I read this. I am a sap when it comes to patriotic songs -- even those of other nations, particularly the UK. (For the full lyrics and a MIDI file of the song which is the focus of the essay, click here.)