Monday, January 09, 2006

Twelve icons? Don't be so silly.

Today brings news that the Government has launched a project to discover England's cultural icons. Twelve such 'icons' have been nominated and the public has been asked to vote on them. I will leave to one side the question of public money being used to fund such a project.

The twelve icons gave me much pause for thought, because they told me a story of this country; what it once was, what it is today, and how the cultural landscape of the country has altered in many ways. Some of the changes have come about due to changing cultural attitudes, and others because of the self-loathing that now runs through our lives like a threnody.

Here is a tongue-in-cheek look at the icons:

1. Cup of tea
Alright in itself, as long as you can ignore the health police and the nannying folk who would seek to prescribe how much milk, sugar and caffeine to have.

2. Jerusalem hymn
I cannot hear that hymn without getting angry. It is a lovely hymn of hope, faith and simple Christian virtue. Now it puts me in mind of hoary lefties who profess to know what is good for every one of us. Watching certain Government ministers sing this song at the Labour Party Conference makes my blood boil. Only the Labour Party can take something so beautiful and simple and turn it into something else.

3. King James Bible.
When was the last time you went into a church and saw a copy of the King James version? What you would most likely get would be a sheet of paper with the relevant verses for the day reproduced in one of those newer translations which lack the beauty of the King James Version. It is symptomatic of today's desire to reduce everything to the pedestrian and demotic.

4. Spitfire
Heralds a bygone age, when there was nothing oxymoronic about the term 'British industry'. We have come a long way since then. Just ask MG Rover.

5. Stonehenge
A breath of fresh air. Testament to this country's celebrated tolerance of minorities and difference. Long may that continue.

6. Alice in Wonderland
Reminiscent of a time of innocence, when there was nothing risky about a little girl falling asleep in her back garden, unwatched by any others. Alas, times are different now.

7. FA Cup
The English version of the story of David and Goliath. Everyone roots for the underdog.

8. Angel of the North
I have no opinion on this, although I am glad that it is not in my backyard.

9. Henry VIII's portrait.
Frankly, I am shocked to see this on the list, given what we so readily take for art in this day and age.

10. Routemaster bus
Sadly missed. Abolished by a mad lefty, the sort who would tell us how to live our lives. England is replete with such people, and what is even more depressing, they have the rule over us.

11. Punch and Judy
Banned by some local authorities because of its violent content. Spare me. Banned by David Cameron, but very much alive in the Liberal Democrat Party.

12. SS Empire Windrush
How far we have come since those days. In those days, integration was taken to be a two-way process. Now, you cannot urge certain cultures to integrate without being branded a rightwing racist bigot.

So the Government cares about our icons? Could have fooled me. Is this the same Government that seeks to abolish historic Scottish regiments, such as Blackwatch? That attempted to abolish the office of the Lord Chancellor? That presided over the cack-handed 'reform' of the House of Lords? That masterminds the insidious removal of the term 'Her Majesty' wherever it can? (Eg Her Majesty's Probation Service becomes the National Offenders' Management Service.)

I remain unconvinced of the Government's newfound love of this nation.
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