Wednesday, 23 April 2008

St George's Day

Happy St George’s Day!

Yes, today is the day to commemorate St George, patron saint of England. It’s not as widely regarded as St Patrick’s Day when the plastic Paddies pour green food colouring into their Guinness and dance to fiddle music while wearing shamrocks. Good for them; I’m all for celebrating your national day – even if you are a hanger-on because you think the Emerald Isle is romantic and everything Irish is fine.

England doesn’t get the same treatment abroad. In England the pubs may be festooned with the proud St George Cross and people may wear red roses (unless they’re from Yorkshire – everything has multiple associations) and jingle through a Morris dance or two, but the rest of the world stays strangely silent.

For some reason, it is not fashionable to take pride in your national identity if you are English, especially if you are living in New Zealand, where England is responsible for all the evils of the world if you believe the national press – and sadly, many Kiwis do.

Recently the St George’s Cross, which has been the flag of England for centuries, has been reclaimed by sports fans, especially those of football, cricket and rugby, and this has put other non-sports fans off. In a bizarre union, it is also flown from Anglican churches. On the Sunday closest to the day itself, many congregations sing Jerusalem – the same hymn sung with rousing effect by the Barmy Army when their team takes the field.

Once on a par with Christmas revelries, the celebrations are now more muted, and there is even a movement to abolish St George as being too Anglo-Saxon. This is ludicrous! St George was born in Palestine and served as a soldier in the Roman army in Turkey. According to legend he killed a dragon that was terrorising the inhabitants of a town in Libya, in return for the people converting to Christianity.

As well as being the patron of the scouting movement, St George is also the saintly representative of Spain, Portugal, Georgia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Macedonia. This is what we should be celebrating as a fitting symbol for England. It embraces diversity; welcomes people of differing cultures; is creative and indestructible, standing up for what it believes in. I see no shame in being proud of that.

William Shakespeare is said to have been born on St George’s Day, and though nobody really knows, it would seem fitting for this great English playwright who loved his country and admired other nations to have the final word.

"In peace there’s nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness and humility:
But when the blast of war blows in our ears
Then imitate the action of
the tiger…

I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips,
Straining upon the start. The game’s afoot!
Follow your spirit and
upon this charge
Cry, ‘God for Harry, England, and St George!"

Sunday, 20 April 2008

Compatibilty test 2

Either, Or

Mountains or sea

Austen or Bronte

Town or country

Cat or dog

Play or watch

Hot or cold

Sandals or boots

Book or film

Lunch or dinner

Ski or snowboard

Wine or beer

Flowers or chocolate

Red or yellow

Pulp Fiction or Natural Born Killers

Blur or Oasis

Football or rugby

Bath or shower

X-country or downhill

Tattoos – yes or no

Boat or plane

Oil or watercolour

Whale or dolphin

Earth or sky

City or United

Raw or polished

Hemingway or Fitzgerald

Gloss or matt

Lift or stairs

Antique or modern

Square or round

Individual or team sport

Tea or coffee

East or West

Latin or Greek

Monopoly or Scrabble

Deciduous or conifer

Sydney or Melbourne

Broadsheet or tabloid

Coronation Street or Eastenders

Sheets or duvet

Compatibility test

There are certain things that people tell you and you extrapolate the information to form a psychometric profile of that person from one tiny detail.

For example if someone likes dogs, I assume they like to control things – they like companionship, but on their terms and are they not fond of unpredictability. They may be insecure or find it difficult to make friends, but they are loyal and will sustain strong relationships. They require something that loves them and depends on them and needs them. They will probably go on to have children.

If they prefer cats, they are possibly slightly arrogant and unreliable. They like their freedom and don’t like to be tied down. They change their mind at the last minute and are tempted by the best offer rather than the first commitment. They like beautiful things and are happy to observe without having to hold. They will probably not want to have children.

If someone likes deciduous trees, I assume they like change. They believe in renewal and they are prepared to take risks and make mistakes because they can forgive, forget and move on. Life is an experience to be lived to the full and they can laugh at failure because failure leads to growth.

Those who prefer conifers like consistency. They are more likely to vote conservative and they are resistant to change. You know where you are with these people; they don’t have rapid mood swings and they avoid confrontation. They like tradition – there is a proper way to do things and they get frustrated when people break the rules.

Of course, these are wild generalisations and totally unscientific. But we do this all the time. And so, I have devised my own compatibility psychometric test, using this theory.

Here’s how it works: You fill it out, and then give it to a prospective partner, friend, or employee. There are 40 questions. A perfect partnership should have a compatibility quota of 25-35. If too many answers are the same, you will agree on everything and that’s boring, but if you don’t have anything in common, then why are you together in the first place?

Maybe I should patent this device. What do you reckon? If anyone has any other top ‘either/or’s, and what their extrapolated implications please let me know. See next post for the list!