Once more into the breach dear friends once more, or close them up with our English dead. William Shakespeare – The Life of Henry the Fifth Act 3 Scene 1
I’ve never been a big fan of old Will Shakinspoke in all honesty, although I recognise his literary brilliance of course it’s just never really “been my bag” so to speak. But today, St Georges Day, 23 April 2012 it was this passage that popped into my head when I thought about writing this post. It’s a long and passionate battle cry as the King leads his men into battle, many to their certain death and it sends a shiver down my spine when I hear it. (see video clip below for the full piece in action)
Now I’m not suggesting we all pop across the channel for a punch up, (although it is then only a short hop to Belgium), but it seems we English seem a little reserved when in comes to our own patron saints day. Yes, we change our Facebook and twitter icons to a George cross or similar and perhaps don the old footie shirt, but generally speaking all English passion and patriotism seems lost when it comes to actually recognising and celebrating the days passing.
The same can’t be said for example on St Patricks Day. Our pubs are decked out in emerald-green and folk flock to our pubs in search of a pint of the black stuff, comedy leprechaun hats donned and the Pogues and The Dubliners CD’s dusted off. Yes through years of clever bombardment marketing the good folks at Guinness have many an English person convinced that they are temporarily Irish for the day, so that we ditch our normal choice of beverage for the “official beer of Ireland”.. (Out of interest, what do Irish folk think of that, is it the same with you, or do you just sit back chuckling at our foolishness?)
Here’s one Irishman’s thoughts..
So what is the official beer of England?
Checking Google, apparently it’s Greene King IPA. It’s also Marstons Pedigree, Wells Bombardier and even errr “Carlsberg” (presumably as it’s brewed in Northampton etc). Surely Google can’t be wrong? (I bloody hope so)
An open question then for debate, chat and mulling over. History aside, what beer typifies modern Englishness, be that a style or an individual brew and if you had a choice of any English beer to raise a glass with today, what would it be??
I’m personally thinking something brewed in England, with English all ingredients, what about a Peerless IPA from Red Willow for starters..
Same question to any of my overseas readers, do you have a saints or national day, if so what’s the beer you most like to celebrate it with?
It’s pretty much the same over here. Though with St Patrick’s Day being a public holiday and lots of other things going on, the Diageo marketing noise does get diluted quite substantially.
I think Diageo’s co-option of St Patrick’s Day globally should act as a warning to everyone: do not tolerate any claims to an “official beer” of your country, nor try to choose one.
Definitely wise words there, I’d hate to think that I had to choose and stick with one beer and one beer alone for any day, lots of choice and lots of folk enjoying choice. Cheers
Not a fan of St Patrick’s Day…..
So I see 😉
It is cringeworthy isn’t it, the way it’s been hijacked as a marketing tool. Your simple but again wise words make a hell of a lot of sense. I’ve dropped your link into the post. Cheers Gregg
As an Irish guy I do enjoy Guinness regularly, but am aware of how Diageo’s huge presence makes it difficult for other Irish craft beers to thrive. I don’t blame diageo or Guinness for this, rather complement their excellent marketing. Have enjoyed St Pat’s day abroad, but find it strange in Ireland, especially Dublin, almost as if you have to be happy and drink through it..generally I steer clear of pubs on Pat’s day. Good to see the English beer renaissance continuing apace, keep up the good work on the website