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There are only two hours left of today, and this date (23rd April) is so special in the annals of English history that I want to celebrate. In 1415, the English were at war with France; a decisive moment was the Battle of Agincourt, not perhaps remembered by the populace at large, until you recall the historic drama of William Skakespeare (Henry V). On the eve of the battle, Henry (in the words of WS) rallies his troops with the immortal battle cry, "God for Harry, England and St George!"
Emotive language - and so significant today - day of days: for April 23rd is not only St George's Day (patron saint of England - with no disrespect to the Welsh, Scots or Irish) but also the birthday of William Shakespeare, that most gifted of wordsmiths, and that of his death also (born and died on April 23rd; 1564-1616). I recall the time as a teenager when I would memorise whole chunks of Shakespeare plays; and on one magical occasion sat late one night in the moonlight on the steps outside the Royal Shakespeare Theatre by the River Avon contemplating words, words, words. (My parents and brother and sister with me, a whirlwind, drama-besotted 15-year-old, were driving from Leeds to Cornwall, then a seven hour drive - no motorways - on a camping holiday).
So to celebrate England, so many years later, I recall on this days of days all my love of this beloved land - without an accompanying illustration. I ask all my dear followers to comment on what they regard as being quintissentially 'English'. Once I thought I knew and could easily select words or images. But as a country, as a nation, we have lost our way and have to delve deep and off the beaten track for what once was ' this precious stone, set in a silver sea' - also Shakespeare (Richard II).
Early this morning on the radio I listened to two Shakesperean protagonists discuss some recently discovered portrait of WS which is evidently currently on display at this year's Stratford Literary Festival. Professor Stanley Wells and Sir Roy Strong were a breath of fresh air in the present climate of political doom and gloom; for what does it matter if we know exactly what WS looked like? We have his plays and his sonnets, and they will surely survive no matter what.