One item of Victorian furnishing sadly hasn’t been restored to fashion by Fiona Bruce’s Antiques Roadshow: the nineteenth-century belief that the British Isles were peculiarly blessed by God.
Yet if you think of the times of the year when we celebrate our patron saints you’ll see the validity of that view. This month, David and Patrick, heralding the coming of Spring. St George when Spring is as victorious as the English archers at Agincourt (many of them Welsh actually – medieval multi-culturalism). St Andrew, an extra dram as winter’s chill begins to bite. How blessed are these timings.
‘To begin at the beginning’, quoting Dylan Thomas and introducing St David. It’s Dylan’s centenary this year. Sink several pints of Welsh brewed Reverend James bitter. Words from St David’s final sermon are recaptured every time we say the Credo Cymru motto. ‘Be Joyful. Keep the Faith.’ Quoting again, this time Wales’ greatest living theologian – no, not Rowan – Max Boyce. Hope we all were ‘singing hymns and arias’, on March 1st.
March 17th – St Patrick. Fifty plus years ago I was in the record industry. Looking back to the early Sixties, I don’t think of Beatlemania, but rejoice that, in 1962, Glen Daly topped the Irish charts with ‘Hail Glorious St Patrick.’ As we roar out this hymn, may ‘Mary’s prayers win our country back to Thee’ – not just Erin’s Isle but every inch of the British Isles, from Scillies to Shetland.
On St George’s Day imitate St George’s Hanworth Park where they wave St George’s flag while singing the hymns. In waving them wish success to the lads as they seek to do an Agincourt in Brazil.
If you’re reading this under St Andrew’s patronage vote ‘No’ in the Referendum. Only Good Friends can afford to have ‘Auld Enemies.’