Taking tea at four, strawberries and cream, Wimbledon on a hot summer’s day, Christmas carols round the tree, street parties for a Queen’s Jubilee: the images of England are often nostalgic and middle class. To some, England, our England, is summed up in the poems of Rupert Brooke, and turned into childhood mystery in the sympathetic portrait of the Shire in The Hobbit. England is The Wind in the Willows, kindness to animals, appreciation of nature’s rich and gentle abundance in a rain swept temperature island. It is Alice in Wonderland, tales that recognise children are on their own important journey in their own right. We are seafarers and stay at home islanders, world traders who value our independence.
To others, there is a more muscular side to Englishness.