….and another thing

By John Stettaford

When you’re retired, every day can be pretty much the same. So I try to make a distinction for our high days and holy days—including the sabbath. I tend to keep a special breakfast cereal for those days, Just for something a bit different—something just to make some kind of distinction. I agree it’s not much. But then as I said before, when you’re retired pretty much every day is the same. Perhaps you’ve seen the T-shirt: ”The trouble with retirement is that you never get a day off!” Even what comes through the door can reflect the same thing: many advertising fliers—and usually ones I’ve had before. Even post, so often bills, are the same year after year—except for any price hike. But this year has been a bit different, with the suppression of our customary observances. This was not the case even in lock down. I had determined, where possible, that I would attend somewhere in person for those special days this year, but in the event, that not being permissable, I observed them quietly and meaningfully on my own. I did miss the fellowship, of course, but that’s something I live with and have lived with for many years. And as I write, today is another one of those high days.

Actually, a day full of very special meaning, unique and otherwise not well understood even in `Christian circles. Only one commentator has the nous to mention it at all. But then again, we have a special day tomorrow—not just because it’s another weekly sabbath, but because it’s Saint George’s Day! Now, Saint George’s Day is normally celebrated on April 23. However, Church of England rules denote that no saints’ day should be celebrated between Palm Sunday and the Sunday following Easter Day; so if April 23 falls in that period, as it does this year, the celebrations are transferred to a later date. But such distinctions are for us something that we can conveniently ignore, I think. But then why celebrate it at all? Only because the Irish have St Patrick’s Day, the Scots St Andrew’s Day, the Welsh St David. So why shouldn’t we English give a nod to St George? Not that he has much connected with anything English. Tradition says he was a Roman Christian who was martyred in Turkey.

An earlier tradition equates him with Shem, and the dragon he supposedly killed, with Nimrod. But that’s not something found in modern scholastic records. And not that we do anything special to honour his day. There used to be a tradition in some circles to mark it with a performance of Elgar’s oratorio: The Banner of St George. As so often appears, while other days’ seem to have more attention paid to them year after year, we Brits tend only to downplay our native traditions. Is it something to do with our national characteristic? That we downplay as a national demeanor—almost to a vice? So often it misleads our enemies. They think that we are weak and effete. Only when under pressure does the British bulldog determination come to the fore, that rugged “we can take it” emerge. Well it did back in 1939. But what evidence for its continuance today? So many cherished institutions have been swept away, and especially since ‘wokism’ has risen its grizzly head. Do Black lives matter`? Of course they do—but so do white and other colours too. As history has been skewed by ignoring black (and female) elements, so modern history is going to be similarly skewed by an over emphasis in any one direction.