What will they do with all those Union Jacks now the Olympics have finished and the Jubilee presumably petering out?   Hopefully, the Paralympics won't be accompanied by so much British 'nationalism'.
   The grand finale of the closing ceremony culminated inside a giant Union flag, of course. If it had been North Korea there would have been horrified cries of 'Propaganda! Propaganda!'
   Cymru was represented by the London Welsh Male Voice Choir and some dancing women in traditional costumes. Where were the green-wellied farmers chasing coy ewes, or blacked-up miners singing 'Cwm Rhondda' ?
   The closing was as culturally imperialist as Boyle's opening extravaganza. It was all about English popular culture and , as such, only Elbow emerged with credit.
   I was more excited the day before when the BBC actually used Thea Gilmore singing Sandy Denny's 'London'. I couldn't believe it : someone with genuine talent acknowledged at last!
   I love watching sport, and even the unremitting chauvinism and Brand GB obsession of most of the coverage failed to put me off.
   While I found it hard to bring myself to support Welsh athletes competing for a nation-state inextricably associated with conquest and anti-democratic monarchy; I still followed their fortunes with interest.
   Unlike our footballers, they had no choice in the matter.
   I was especially fascinated by those sports I was unfamiliar with : ones I wish I had taken up when younger. Handball looked a really thrilling sport : fast , skillful and very physical.
   The illusion of harmony and cheerful spirit of volunteers and armed forces all working towards a common good was a temporary reality.
  The Olympics and Jubilee have been used in conjunction to promote a false notion of a single British 'nation', very much as the Orange Order in n.Ireland brings together those of very different classes under a triumphalist banner.
   Once the fervour dies down we are left with a Britain breaking up under the relentless strain of the cuts.
   The more the SNP Gov. in Scotland and Labour in Wales try to resist these, the further away they travel from mainstream English politics and into decidedly social democratic alternatives.
   Commentators can keep insisting on 'nation' for Britain, yet it is the desperately hysterical scream of an Empire drowning.
   Gordon Brown's pathetic attempts to portray the success of the Olympics as a justification for the Union are a case in point. How can he say we do things better together when both Wales and his native land have so much more progressive policies on student fees for instance?
   Surely, the political reality is the reverse : both Cymru and Scotland have achieved preferable systems by resisting widespread privatisation and refusing to implement reactionary education policies of the Gove variety.
   Sadly, poets are sucked into this lie of inclusive Britishness perpetrated by all the media during this year of the Monarchist Banner.
   Carol Ann Duffy is undoubtedly a very fine poet and also a lovely person. I had the pleasure of reading with her before she was appointed Poet Laureate and she was an excellent performer of her work.
   However, like her great predecessor Ted Hughes , the worst work has been produced  in immediate response to public events.
   The way she feels compelled to pay homage to Mrs Windsor reduces her poetry not just to subservience, but to the kind of fawning propaganda associated with Soviet authors praising their regimes.
   When she begins her poem 'Translating The British, 2012' ( on the front of the so-called liberal left 'Guardian') with... 'The Queen jumped from the sky / to cheering crowds.'
   ...she has fulfilled her role as poet of this appallingly rich woman who owes her position simply to hereditary.
   Whatever sentiments follow - Duffy tries to present a case for multiculturalism and also bash the rich - are seriously undermined by the opening.
   Like the British nationalist Labour Party, she takes swipes at 'pick-pocket' bankers, but never at The Windsors, with their vast wealth paid for by our taxes.
   So when she concludes 'We are all in this together' , she is about as convincing as Cameron. Are those Windsors she serves suffering under these unnecessary cuts, as are so many working-class people?
   Almost every shot of a British Olympian winning was accompanied by one of a member of the Windsor family in the crowd, as if their presence alone had deified the event.
   If N. Korea had staged the Olympics it would have been their ruling family given free tickets to everything and equally ubiquitous on the television.


                                             PROUD TO BE BRITISH


I am British because the Queen
is a lovely old lady who harms no-one

because the Jubilee brings us all together :
every class, creed and colour

I'm British because the Olympic torch
has lit up all our best tourist spots

and because Wil.i.am has held it
and Boris is a big laugh

I'm British because Usain Bolt
speaks fluent English courtesy of the Empire

I'm British because of Shakespeare
(even though in school it was gibberish)

I'm British because Tesco
stock everything with a Union Jack on :

cakes, eggs, pants, crisps
and especially Carling

I am British because we're winning
and beating the French and Germans

I'm proud because the Queen
jumped from a plane with James Bond

I'm especially British because Kate is lush ;
we've got the best music, sheep, hospital beds

we need a Royal baby or funeral next,
to stop my flag from going limp.



 


alun roberts
08/16/2012 12:00

You may get your wish of a good state funeral sooner than you think....

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Clare Jenkins
08/16/2012 14:10

I don't like nationalism. Seeing all the athletes penned into one triange of a Union Jack made me feel uncomfortable. But I do like living in a mostly tolerant society where normal people of different creed, class, colour can work hard and achieve their dreams. It's good to work together good humouredly to acheive things. Worth celebrating in my book. Just not sure I need to wave a flag to do that! No system is perfect.

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