Today’s the day – but how many people know?
SO, the big day has arrived. Today we can puff out our chests and say with heartfelt honesty: I m proud to be English. Yes, April 23 is St George s Day, but what does it mean to people? Not much, it seems. The Irish put a lot of effort into celebrating
SO, the big day has arrived. Today we can puff out our chests and say with heartfelt honesty: "I'm proud to be English."
Yes, April 23 is St George's Day, but what does it mean to people? Not much, it seems.
The Irish put a lot of effort into celebrating St Patrick's Day, the Welsh seem to enjoy waving a daffodil on St David's Day and the Scots raise a wee dram or two on St Andrew's Day.
In England, it's the scouts who are known for marking St George's Day with town marches. In recent years, pubs have been jumping on the bandwagon, urging people to go along to their drinking establishments and quaff a patriotic pint.
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But still the great English nation continues to turn up an indifferent nose to its patron saint.
The shocking results of a survey reveal that seven out of 10 young people do not know when St George's Day is and over 40 per cent admitted they had no idea why St George is the patron saint.
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One in eight English people of all ages said they find it embarrassing or distasteful when they see the St George's Cross flag flying, associating it (and there is some truth in this) with political extremists.
Most people have the notion that St George was the bloke who killed a dragon to save a fair maiden but the tale is, of course, allegorical.
In reality, he was a Roman soldier executed for refusing to bow to the will of Emperor Diocletian and denounce his Christian faith. He stood for fair play, tolerance and freedom, and he gave all his wealth to the poor.
He was regarded as such a good egg that eventually King Richard declared him as England's patron saint, and Henry III decreed that the Feast of St George would be celebrated on the date of the noble soldier's death, April 23.
Now that you know, you can begin planning what you will be doing on the special day next year.
To my mind, no pride can be attached to the road tax scheme which was introduced by Lloyd George 100 years ago.
In his 1909 Budget speech, the Welsh wizard said: "It is quite clear that our present system of roads and of road making is inadequate for the demands which are increasingly made upon it (that could equally apply today!) by the new form of traction.
"Both the general public and motorists are crying out for something to be done."
Announcing eight bands of road tax ranging from �2 to �42 a year, he claimed motorists were "willing, and even anxious, to subscribe handsomely" to a road tax fund so long as it was spent exclusively and wisely on improvement of the roads.
Not one penny would be taken by the Treasury, he promised. But as the money pot grew ever bigger, it was too tempting to devote it just to roads and it was increasingly used for non-road purposes.
I, for one, am not willing - even anxious - to subscribe handsomely, so can I have a reduction in my road tax which is due next week? I fear the answer is: "On your bike!