For Harry, England and St George
I am for England.
Not the overblown Imperialism we sometimes
mistake for heritage
but the little, local lovelinesses
that make up real life.
I am for bacon sandwiches with brown sauce,
church bells over village greens,
Elgar, allotments and standing in queues.
I am for neighbours pulling together
when it really matters.
I am for Stonehenge, Glastonbury
and celebrating every season’s wonder
sometimes in the same day.
I am for snow in May, sunshine in November
lambs in fields and lambs in kebabs.
I am for calling neighbours “Incomers”
because they’ve only lived here for three generations.
I am for the sympathetic barmaid who hearing
today’s hard luck story,
shows a little extra cleavage.
I am for eternal optimism at football in spite of
mounting contrary evidence and when every fan can pick a better team.
I am for pubs with a back yard like a bomb site
putting out two chairs and an umbrella
and a sign saying “Beer Garden”.
I am for garden parties, cucumber sandwiches and cream teas
Pimms and G ‘n’ T s,
pork pies and mushy peas.
I am for our national dish;
Chicken Tikka Marsala.
I am for brass bands and being confused
by Morris Dancers.
I am for canals and boaters,
for Cumbria and Cornwall and
all points in between.
I am for the heart, for compassion
for pubs raising money for local children.
I am for the Women’s Institute,
Rotary Clubs, Inner Wheels and their quiet good works
I am for the England that shames the government into caring.
I am for the city, the village,
the town, the hamlet.
Oh! I am for the Royal Shakespeare Company,
Modern Shakespeares like Ian McMillian and John Hegley,
for nights in boozers with pints and poetry.
I am for James Bond, Harry Potter,
Miss Marple and Peter Pan.
I am for the Beatles, The Who,
The Stones, Adele and accepting we’ll
never again win the Eurovision Song Contest.
I am for the new England
made up of many nations.
Each different race and face
proof of the time we saw a need and opened the doors.
I am for forgetting differences except to celebrate them.
I am for Welsh England, Irish England, Scottish England
Jewish, Muslim, Sikh,
Christian and atheist England
I am for Black England, Asian England, Chinese England
Gay, Straight, Bi, Transgender England.
I am for equal rights to do or be
as long as
you don’t hurt another person
or their rights.
England and chips,
England with a flake and raspberry sauce.
I am for a cup of tea and slice of cake
God, you’ve no idea how much
I am for a cup of tea and a slice of cake!
I am for you.