Letter: English heritage

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Richard Hoggart (Saturday Essay, 5 September) protests too much about our national identity. We may be muddled about whether we are English or British, but our ancestors were muddled about whether they were Angles or Saxons: they settled for the former, but their Celtic neighbours still call us the latter. And those Celts are muddled, too: the "Welsh" were really British; the "Scots" were really Irish, and most Lowlanders were really English.

The claim that "the poorest he that is in England hath a life to live as the greatest he" was indeed made centuries ago - by Thomas Rainborow during the English Revolution - but it still isn't recognised; look at the homeless in our cities or the travellers in our countryside.

No, our main characteristics are that we are relatively safe and relatively rich, which is why most of us are fairly - but not very - nice.

NICOLAS WALTER

London N1

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