This year, Britons, particularly the English, seem to have regained a sense of national confidence. Usually slightly embarrassed by overt displays of patriotism, the British have woken up to the fact that they live in a damn fine country.
Take this for example. Marking the 200th anniversary of Lord Nelson’s death, one of the largest processions ever seen on the Thames in London is re-enacting the funeral of Lord Nelson. How charming. Yes, it’s completely barmy, but for a generation that was taught to be slightly ashamed of the Empire, it’s gratifying to see Lord Nelson feted in this way. Yes, yes, I know, in many ways the shame was justified, but that seems to miss the point now.
This summer we’ve also had:
- A massive re-enactment of the Battle of Trafalgar (although substituting French vs. British with Blue vs. Red was silly, old school, self-deprecating twaddle)
- London’s victory over Paris for the Olympics
- Live 8 (British generosity writ large)
- The Ashes triumph over the Aussies in cricket
- A television reminder of the beauty of Britain (Coast and A Picture of Britain). Why holiday in Brittany when you’ve got Pembrokeshire?
Even the terrorist bombings seemed to inflate rather than dent national pride, and, thankfully, not in a let’s-bomb-the-buggers kind of way (although allowing the government to lock people up for 3 months without charge must be a cause for concern, I admit). Is Britain the greatest country in the world? Of course not. I could give you a long list of rubbish that still pollutes the land (beginning with Wayne Rooney). But I’ll resist that temptation. The prevailing mood, it seems, is pulling us away from national self-loathing. This is to be welcomed.