The meaning of irony

I decided to come up to town this afternoon after hearing on the news that that a whole series of events have been laid on to celebrate St. George’s Day. For those of you in the US, the Irish and Scots have long had their respective saints’ days (St Patrick, of course, and St Andrew respectively), but lately the English have been saying “me too” and wondering what happened to our own national identity.

The events include Morris dancing in Covent Garden, a presentation of “diversity” in Trafalgar Square, and an open family day at the reconstructed Globe theatre. The latter, which I intend to go to later this afternoon, is a reconstruction of the theatre in which Shakespeare’s plays were originally performed, built on the inspiration of Sam Wannamaker who arrived in London expecting to find it, not realising that it had not existed for several hundred years. (I’m not sure if it was destroyed in a fire, or just demolished.) The Globe Theatre which did exist is now called the Gielgud Theatre.

The presentation in Trafalgar Square was rather unintentionally comical - it consisted of a collage of pictures of the different colours of people in London set against a big red and white cross (the St. George flag). This, of course, does not say much for the diversity of the capital given that the flag only represents the nominally biggest single religion. But that’s not the worst of it. This was sponsored by the Express newspaper group, and contained visible advertising for all their titles (their porn rags were sold off when they wanted to buy the Telegraph). Given that this was organised by the Mayor, why could they not have found a better sponsor? This group has been responsible for some of the most notoriously sensationalist reporting on issues like asylum and immigration, which not long ago began to look like a vendetta - to say nothing of Richard Desmond’s performance in front of the Telegraph’s executives in which he did a Hitler impersonation and called all Germans Nazis. But then, London’s Germans aren’t a visible minority, are they?

(I couldn’t help noticing also the woman on stilts in a kilt-like skirt outside the Britain Visitor Centre in Lower Regent Street. Did nobody tell her that St George’s day has nothing to do with Scotland, or does tartan have an English connection also? And she was neither Scottish nor English, nor Welsh nor Irish.)

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