‘Hen Wlad’, ‘Flower of Scotland’ and ‘Jerusalem’?

wales flag  scotland flag  england flag Wales: Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau     Scotland: Flower of Scotland         England: Jerusalem ??

If memory serves me correctly, it was in 2001 (or thereabouts) that I used my opinion column in the newspaper group for which I was senior editor to call for the British national anthem to be reserved for purely British use.

I argued that, as Wales has Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau and Scotland has Flower of Scotland, it is inappropriate for England to use the British God Save The Queen. It is not England’s property and never has been. It is just that although both Wales and Scotland have their own identities, England hasn’t.

It’s hardly surprising that some people from other countries get Britain and England confused.

On more than one occasion when I have told someone that I lived in Wales, as I did at the time, the follow-up was along the lines of ‘Oh, right, Wales is in England’ to which I would point out, as politely and diplomatically as I could that Wales is most certainly not in England but that they are both part of Great Britain.

So, having explained all that, you can possibly imagine my delight in the fact that a cross-party group of MPs is going to present a Bill in the House of Commons to give England its very own anthem. And it looks like, if it is successful, that the anthem may well be Jerusalem.

The words to Jerusalem are taken from William Blake’s preface to his epic poem, Milton, and the music was composed by Sir Hubert Parry in 1916. It is well known as the WI hymn as, at every Women’s Institute branch in England, members sing it at their meetings; it refers to ‘England’s green and pleasant land’.

Some people may feel that There’ll always be an England may be preferable but that in itself has a problem because it contains the words ‘Red White and Blue, what does it mean to you?’ but the English flag is an upright red cross on a white background. Red, white and blue are, of course, the colours of the British flag. The words also contain the call ‘Britons awake’.

It may have taken 15 years for my dream to come true but it certainly looks hopeful that the Bill will eventually become Law. Apparently, Prime Minister David Cameron welcomes the proposal and favours using Jerusalem as the English anthem.

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Support – a question of sport

ES-UK-US

Nationality and patriotism are areas that can both stir up strong emotional feelings that are mostly for the good but sometimes not.

Of course, the most extreme forms of both are found in times of war or conflict between nations but, on a lesser scale, it flows across into the realms of sport.

When I moved from London to North Wales in 1992, despite being English by birth and parentage, I became loyal to my adopted country and its rugby union and football (soccer) teams – even when playing against England.

I learned to sing Mae Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau (the country’s anthem) in Welsh as well as to spell and say the name of its longest village: It is Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch (and, yes, I did type all 58 letters without looking it up and without any correction being needed). Additionally, the only two rugby shirts that I have owned have been the red of Wales and the black of the Ospreys team based in South Wales. Although never having a Welsh football shirt, I still followed the progress and fortunes of the team.

So, what does that all mean for my impending move to Spain?

Switching allegiances from one British team to another was no big deal but supporting Spanish teams would entail a much greater transfer. But isn’t that what I will be doing by living there? In a way, yes it is but, conversely, I shall be remaining a UK citizen and I will continue to vote in parliamentary elections in the constituency I which I now live. So, loyalties will be divided.

Spain is not a major rugby-playing nation, so in that sport I shall continue to support Wales. Football is another matter, though. The Spanish seem to treat ‘futbol’ as a way of life, they are fervent. And the national team is good too, having won the World Cup in 2010 and the Euro Championship in both 2008 and 2012. I don’t think Wales will rival that team or play against it very much. It seems likely that I’ll be able to support both.

At club level, Fulham has remained my UK football team since moving to Wales but now I’ll need a Spanish one as well. On purely geographic grounds, that looks set to be Almeria that plays in the La Liga second tier in which it currently lies 16th of the 22 clubs. So it looks like I will have to get used to supporting a team that plays in a red and white striped shirt.

Baseball is another sport that interests me and, as theirs is the only stadium I have visited, Toronto Blue Jays is the team for me. On the other hand, Lisa being American says that my support should be for a USA team not one in Canada. Fair enough, I suppose, but I’d have to see them play first!

As far as my last major team sport is concerned, there is no need to change anything. This is because cricket is not a feature of many nations and so I can rest easy supporting the England team that represents the England and Wales Cricket Board.