It is twenty-nine years ago to the day that I had to recite the poem ‘St George and the Dragon’ by Alfred Moyes at a school assembly. The terror of those excruciating 30 seconds burned onto my mind to such a degree that I can still repeat it ad-verbatim, and it still makes my knees wobble and bladder ache when I do so.
St George he slew the dragon.
But he didn’t shout hurray.
He dumped it in a wagon
Just to clear the mess away.
But the wagoner he sold it
To a showman at the Fair,
And when St George was told it
He was almost in despair.
For the people crowded round it
To admire its teeth and claws,
But St George he was an Englishman
And did not like applause.
The creature weighed a ton at most,
He muttered through his vizard.
“I do not feel inclined to boast
about that puny lizard.”
Of course you’ll have noticed straight away a grave error in this poem, St George, or should I call him by his proper name Agios Geo̱rgios, was not an Englishman at all, but was actually born in Cappadocia (now in Turkey), to Palestinian/Greek parents and is buried in Israel.
But ironically such a trivial matter as his ethnicity matters not on a glorious day like today when we celebrate everything that makes us English.
I always think it is a bit of a shame that England’s greatest playwright Will Shakespeare’s birth and death day (coincidentally) is overshadowed every year by us celebrating some Johnny Foreigner who comes over here slaying all our dragons.
So if you want to do something patriotic on this day to celebrate the Englishness of England, and do something that doesn’t involve waving a flag around and getting nervous looks from people on the bus who think you’re a bit of a racist. Then why not try to use some of our wonderful words that wouldn’t be in our English language today if it wasn’t for the Baird himself. Words such as Auspicious , Fashionable, Scuffle, Swagger, Zany, New-fangled and Fair-play.
Isn’t the English language just brilliant!
(If not a little bit German, French, Italian, and Greek…)