So patriotism then, what is it all about? The reason I ask is because its not long since the football World Cup had everybody decorating their cars and houses with the cross of St George.
There was a lot of flag flying, anthem singing and talk of 'national pride'. Personally I don't really get it. Don't get me wrong. I'm a proud Yorkshire man. But I don't think it makes me in some way superior to anybody else. After all its all just accidental that I was born in Yorkshire rather than Lancashire or even (shudder) down South! Some of my favourite people come from all corners of the world. Some of my least favourite people come from Yorkshire.
Of course I have a parochial interest in local matters (for example my championing of local bands) because these things are closer to me. When I lived down South it was always of interest to meet people from 'back home' in Yorkshire to share and celebrate in our common backgrounds. Similarly now that I'm domiciled back up North I always like to chat to people from Wycombe (where I lived) and the surrounding areas.
I guess patriotism could be described as a similar but wider expression to that of my local pride. That is fine although personally I find England a too big and unwieldy place to love in its entirety. Also where do you stop? I mean why should I be supportive of somebody in Berwick upon Tweed (in England) but sworn enemies of somebody a few miles up the road in Dunbar (in Scotland)? It seems a bit random to me.
Also there's a dark side to patriotism and its a side that makes me very uncomfortable. I remember a stage I seemed to go through a few years ago. Every time I went to Fernandes in Wakefield after a few drinks I'd end up chatting to some stranger or other. Usually it went very well with plenty of interesting stories and views but there was always the odd encounter which would leave me bemused.
A typical example was a bloke who not long into the conversation started talking about his recent investigations into his family history. Nothing unusual here but the point was that apparently he could trace his ancestors all the way back to pre-Norman times so he was proper English. This then lead onto some forthright views on immigration and the like. Over the years I've learnt that its best not to get too worked up in such a situation. I explain my own views and make sure that the individual understands that I don't agree with him. I didn't bother mentioning that I'm of immigrant stock myself (Irish) or that in some ways Angles, Saxons and Jutes were no more the natives of England than Normans or Irish or Pakistanis although admittedly they did arrive earlier.
I can never get my head round the rights or wrongs of where people choose to live. We surely all know British people who have gone to live all over the world ( I know people who're living in the Netherlands, Sweden, Australia, Switzerland, the US and France - just off the top of my head). How is it any different from people coming to live and work in the UK?
Frankly I'd be more worried if people didn't want to come to Britain. When that happens we'll know that the country is really screwed.
It also seems to me that too many people seem to see love of their country as an excuse to hate other countries and other people. Surely the two don't naturally go together? After all I love my wife but it doesn't follow from that that I hate all other women.
Although in general I think Ian Brown is a complete idiot it has to be said that he phrased it well. 'It's not where you're from its where you're at'.