June 10, 2007
National Community Service
Oh Aye, so this idea of national community service is raising it's head again. Here's the first suggestion anyway:
In addition, a new citizenship ceremony - perhaps on students' completion of their GCSEs - would be one way of more publicly marking their understanding of what it means to be a responsible citizen in modern Britain.
So what would that ceremony consist of? Salute the flag and a couple of verses of Rule Britannia? Or an abasement for having conquered a quarter of the globe? What would be the refreshements? Cider and Buckfast for that truly modern touch?
What really seems to be missed is that (whether it's at 16 or any other age) the attainment of full citizenship is not some privilege that is handed down to us from on high. Rather, it's that one is now of an age when one gets to choose who those on high are going to be. It is not the mighty who offer us the privileges of citizenship, it is us who choose who is going to handle those minor matters that cannot be handled privately, whether individually or collectively.
The correct ceremony would therefore be for politicians to abase themselves before such gatherings, begging for votes so that they might continue their lives upon the gravy train. The correct response to this from those celebrating would for 40% not to bother to turn up, the remainder to view the vote stealers with the contempt they deserve: precisely the (correct) reaction of all the other adults in the Kingdom.
I mean, if we're going to have such a ceremony, let us at least do it in the British manner, shall we?
I think we need to consider a national community service and we should not be afraid of asking whether this should be compulsory.
I'm certainly not afraid of that question being asked. So, should all youngsters be forced to work, unpaid, at the direction of the State? Hmmm. Toughie that.
We actually dealt with that in 1569:
...and it was resolved, that England was too pure an air for a slave to breathe in.
So there we have it. A reasonable thing to celebrate perhaps, something historically British, that we don't have slave labour here. So those who wish to enslave the young can quite happily be told to bugger off on the basis that they are being terribly un-British.
We have heard a lot, too, about the possibility of a national day. I believe we need to go further, with a community week that puts the local centre-stage - marking what makes an area unique.
I maintain that the only possible date for a celebration of Britishness is October 3. It's the day the last native Prince of Wales was executed by the English and is thus the event that gave rise to the very concept of Britishness.
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Weren't you promoting Trafalgar Day a few weeks ago?
Tim adds: Indeed, but looking up the anniversaries for October I found this one, even better.
Posted by: Mark Wadsworth | Jun 10, 2007 9:04:45 AM
"by the English"? They were ruled by Frogs at that time.
Posted by: dearieme | Jun 10, 2007 1:06:28 PM
Knowing full well that always end up looking silly in arguments over historical facts...
a) It seems a tad insensitive to me to celebrate the anniversary of the execution of the last Welsh Prince of Wales. I'd stick to Trafalgar Day.
b) No "we" were not ruled by the French, the Normans were essentially Vikings who arrived via France. It depends who "we" are, my take on this is that the "English" basically conquered thenselves, the "English" are the descendants of Wikings and Normans and Saxons etc who kicked out the Celts, Romans and so on.
Posted by: Mark Wadsworth | Jun 10, 2007 1:33:49 PM
[the Normans were essentially Vikings who arrived via France]
in the same way that an omelet is basically a kind of cheese that comes from a hen.
Posted by: dsquared | Jun 10, 2007 2:15:43 PM
"Wikings": worthy of Python, Monty.
Posted by: dearieme | Jun 10, 2007 3:29:17 PM
As for Britishness, things are definitely looking up.
"Britain's Duke of Edinburgh may be planning a quiet birthday celebration at home this weekend, but there will be feasting and flag-waving in an isolated jungle village in the South Pacific nation of Vanuatu, where he is worshipped as a god."
Posted by: Bob B | Jun 10, 2007 3:57:58 PM
I tried to denounce him, but it wouldn't let me. How do you post a comment on that stinking site?
Posted by: Harry Hutton | Jun 10, 2007 7:16:36 PM
Harry, I can't see what you are complaining about. If the Roman Emperors Tiberius, Nero and Caligula could be deified, I can't see what impediments might prevent the ascendancy of the Duke of Edinburgh too.
Besides, Tanna in the Vanuata Is must be among the few places on Earth, apart from Texas, where George W and Teflon Tony could be really secure in retirement.
With the US Pacific fleet patrolling offshore, there's nothing there that could possibly disturb their tranquility. Early deification will surely be a welcome alternative to all that nasty criticism from ungrateful electorates back home.
Posted by: Bob B | Jun 10, 2007 10:07:21 PM
Please don't tell me Tony is coming to Texas. I have only just moved here to get away from him.
Posted by: Deirdre | Jun 12, 2007 1:28:27 AM