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Morag's Blog - August 2023
01 Aug 2023

I am not a patriot, nor a nationalist. I was brought up half English and half Scottish which left me identifying with neither. I feel bad about how representatives from England treated entire countries and their people, claimed for “the Empire”. Sometimes people interpret this as glorious. I understand they feel like this but I am not one of them. Nor do I feel tribal or have a need to trump where I live over other places. They all have their merits and issues.  I have a lot of time for all the people who fought in the last war to keep Europe free from tyranny and fascism, to make England a welcoming place of asylum and peace. 

I’m not daft. I know it’s not utopia. Let’s explore. 

When I see a flag of St George, I cringe a bit as I assume that it is flown by a member of the far right, a very public statement of certain politics and oppressive values. I have started to resent this. It’s a symbolic representation of the place I live so why do they own that flag? In other countries the whole population feels able to fly their flag with  pride.

Like Billy Bragg, who has written a book on the subject, I would like to wrestle the concept of “England” and what it means to live in England from the British National Party and make it a more open discussion, warts and all.  

I applied to the Arts Council England for a grant to look into this subject and to have a conversation in my local community about what it feels like to live in England today. Positive Citizenship is taught in schools using given words and concepts- do they match the reality?   How could I encapsulate people’s thoughts about life in England?

I run a folk venue so I didn’t think long about this. Initially I wanted guest artists at Rosslyn Court to choose and perform a song representing life in England but then widened the project to include people in the area from as many of the different parts of the community as I could find. Also – for people who were not born in  England  what song did people hear and think of as quintessentially English before they came to live here? 

So, this was the start of the journey and after a bit of a hiccough this is where we are.

I have run the project past a number of folk performers who have given me ideas, help and advice and I would like to publicly thank:

  • Angeline Morrison
  • George Sansome
  • Cohen Braithwaite Kilcoyne
  • Martin Carthy
  • Bob Fox
  • Bob Kenward
  • Gerry Colvin
  • Christina Alden 
  • Alex Patterson
  • Sally Ironmonger
  • Brian Carter
  • Charlie Hannah
  • Den Miller

To do:

  • find sympathetic people to help  
  • be very brave and take my idea to the public.
  • organise collection places to catch as many different types of people as possible
  • organise concerts
Image representing Morag's Blog - August 2023 from Margate Songbook