Toni Hargis

I’ve been invited to contribute to a Domesday project for the 21st century, and write about “What England means to me”. I am determined to contribute – once I can think of something to say that doesn’t make me cringe.

I was going to write about the smell of an English garden on a summer’s eve, (oh, a tear just dropped), or the pleasure of meeting old friends in a lovely country pub, but it all seems too, well, corny. Then I thought about pointing out to England, that it’s all not as bad as one would think judging by the on-line newspapers – yes, the NHS is in crisis, but at least everyone in theory has access to healthcare. That sort of thing. But that seemed too preachy.

As it happened, on the same day as my attempt at this piece, my son’s English teacher sent him home with an article from the New York Times entitled “Britain Looks for its Essence, and Finds Mostly Punch Lines”. It starts by discussing the recent competition in The Times (of London) to find a five-word motto. I must admit I followed it every day because some of the answers were hilarious. The best included

“Dipso, Facto, Bingo, Asbo, Tesco”,

“Once Mighty Empire, Slightly Used” and

“At least we’re not French”.

But the winner was “No Motto Please, We’re British”. My sentiments exactly. We can’t go around bragging about being British, (or English) although a little less of the hair-shirt would be nice.

Toni Hargis is the author of Rules Britannia, she lives in the USA.