Thursday, 5 October 2006

They Were Only Satellites

Billy Bragg has a new book out, The Progressive Patriot. It seems to be about how an old lefty can still love his country without getting all misty eyed about cricket and warm beer.

The Observer interviewed him about this — and, yes, it's taken me until now to notice — making the odd ploy of sending an Irish man to ask an Englishman about his Englishness:
I tell him that his efforts to reclaim the flag of St George didn't quite win me over, given that it has different connotations for those of us raised in Northern Ireland. 'That's why it's important we reclaim it,' he replies, 'which I think we have. When the St George flag is waved in Trafalgar Square when we win the Ashes, it means one thing: this is who we are. This is our team and this is what they look like. One is a Sikh, one is a Muslim. It's interesting that Peter Hitchens hates the idea that the 11 young men in the football team represent England, but could you ever come up with 11 young men who look more like us?'

The book looks interesting while the interview seems bland except for the inteviewers slight peevishness:
There is less autobiography than I expected, too; no mention, for instance, of his stint in the army as a young man, an experience that must surely have afforded him an insight into an extreme version of British patriotism. 'It didn't really seem relevant that I was in the army for a bit,' he says, unconvincingly, when I mention this. 'The autobiographical things I put in there were selected purely to serve the book's argument.'

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