It is St George’s Day, and the English Tourist Board, or VisitEngland as it now prefers to be known, has found a new way to exploit England’s national day for marketing purposes. It has come up with a list of 101 Things To Do In England (Before You Go Abroad). This weekend, 51 of these things have tantalisingly been released as an early teaser, and they are to be followed by another 50 on the day itself.
On the evidence of the list, the reasons for not going abroad are not compelling. Before thinking of a foreign holiday, we should “have “a truly English cuppa” in Cornwall, or visit Blackpool Illuminations. Or perhaps enjoy “a night on the Toon in lively Newcastle”.
Reading it, many people are likely to respond to the rather bossy instruction contained in VisitEngland’s name, with the question: “Do we really have to?” For them, purely in the interests of balance, here are 45 Things To Do In England (To Confirm That You’d Really Rather Go Abroad):
Good Old London Town
1. Take a traditional ride in a black London cab and forget to leave a tip.
2. Mingle with tourists in Piccadilly Circus station.
3. Join a coach party and go to The Mousetrap.
4. Visit a traditional West End comedy and remind yourself of the marvellous English sense of humour however unfunny the jokes may be.
5. Got to Madame Tussauds and try to work out who the waxworks represent.
6. Put on a pin-striped suit and join an Occupy London demonstration in the City.
7. Experience the new English café culture, drinking a watery cappuccino as lorries thunder by on the Euston Road.
8. Study the varieties of English fighting dog being exercised in a turd-covered park in east London.
9. Discuss with one of the dog-owners if his two pit-bulls, as they tear a cat apart, shouldn’t be on a lead.
10. Get beaten up.
11. Engage first-hand with the famous National Health crisis at the local A & E.
12. Attend parliamentary Question Time when Nick Clegg and Harriet Harman are facing up to one another.
13. Go to a Ukip conference under the guise of a Romanian employment agency.
14. Attend one of the regular parliamentary inquiries into MPs, bankers and journalists held at Westminster.
15. Watch a Carol Vorderman photo-call as she unveils her tightest dress yet.
16. See Noel Edmonds driving his private black cab with a fake woman passenger in the back.
17. Attend a 10-hour David Icke event at Wembley Arena.
18. Try to get a ticket for the finals of the much-coveted Rear of the Year contest.
The World of Sport
19. Sit among Millwall fans during a game against Leeds or “The Vermin” West Ham.
20. Enjoy Royal Ascot’s Ladies Day, known as “No-Knickers Day” in some circles, with fights, champagne, groping and general high spirits among young executives and reality-show celebrities.
21. Dogging in the Thetford Forest.
22. The combination of football and martial arts that is Sunday League football on the Hackney Marshes.
23. The Oxford and Cambridge boat race.
Culture and Heritage
24. A “Britain Has the Best TV in the World” evening, featuring classic re-runs of Top Gear, My Family and Downton Abbey.
25. Get spanked at the recently opened 50 Shades of Grey Amusement Dungeon.
26. Watch opera beneath the giant wind turbine at Glyndebourne.
27. Go to the Colindale Press Library and spend a full day reading the thoughts of our greatest press moralists: Melanie Phillips, Liz Jones, Jeremy Clarkson and Amanda Platell.
28. Watch a re-run of the latest Stephen Poliakoff extravaganza on the BBC.
29. Shed a tear at the Princess Diana Memorial Museum at Althorp.
Out and about
30. Go to a beach.
31. Compare it to the beaches you have visited abroad.
32. Stay at a traditional English bed-and-breakfast.
33. Ask for an electric fire in the room.
34. Enquire as to whether it would be possible to have linen rather than nylon sheets on the bed.
35. Request croissants for breakfast.
36. Get beaten up again.
37. Challenge yourself to drive around London in under six hours during the rush hour on the famous M25.
38. Enjoy a traditional pub crawl on a Saturday night.
39. Discover how one can sleep surprisingly well in a urine-soaked gutter.
40. Go on a shopping trip to Tesco.
41. Go on a shopping trip to a nearby High Street recently destroyed by Tesco.
42. Watch some hedge-grubbing, a traditional activity of arable farmers.
43. Go to a cattle market where dairy herds are being sold off for slaughter.
44. Join a slow-moving queue of dead-eyed locals waiting for lottery tickets at a village shop.
45. Experience a bus ride by booking a train ticket for a Sunday.