Freya Berry: How about a holiday that gives power to the people?

iWriters

Share
Related Topics

We're in the midst of a patriotic period for Britain. Kate's hair! The Jubilee celebrations! That Olympic stadium covering by Dow Chemicals! And yet, on St George's Day, my response is less than enthusiastic. This is because, even if it were a bank holiday, I know my road wouldn't have a street party.

To be fair, I live on a pretty steep hill, and realise cupcakes would therefore be wont to roll off the serviettes. But I know that people have street parties because the politicians tell us we do, and Take That had a recent video in which adorable townsfolk bustled round the iced biscuits, unconcerned at the performing millionaires in their midst. However, I've never actually attended a street party– and how can I feel proud of my country without one?

My relationship with patriotism is complex. While a free holiday would be nice, I have no strong feelings about celebrating a Syrian man who slew a dragon somewhere that was definitely not England, and/or died by being lacerated on a wheel of swords, depending on which section of Wikipedia you consult. And yet from the Government's Big Society campaign and the rhetoric that followed the 2011 riots, how I view these minutiae is apparently inextricably linked to my moral wellbeing.

Celebration has been politicised by this Government, which can happily double the Olympic opening ceremony's price tag to £80m with one hand, whilst removing disability benefits and legal aid with the other. David Cameron dreams of the kind of people who genuinely draw pride from the idea that a man who never visited their country once didn't slay a mythical monster here, because those people don't complain about unnecessary political cruelties as long as the show goes on.

Meanwhile, the disaffected young see a country in which 22 per cent of them are unemployed, where the educational maintenance allowance is removed and free school meals are disappearing. An investigation into the 2011 riots revealed that 51 per cent of the rioters "did not feel part" of British society. It's hard to be patriotic if you don't feel embraced by the country you're trying to be patriotic about. The Romans had a holiday called the Saturnalia. Social roles were reversed for a brief period: slaves were given banquets and, most importantly, freedom of speech: they could say anything to their masters without fear of reprisal. If you're going to give us a holiday, Cameron, don't give us empty spectacle, but an initiative that gives genuine power to the people who need their voices heard most.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

C# Algo-Developer (BDD/TDD, ASP.NET, JavaScript, RX)

£45000 - £69999 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Algo-Develo...

Senior Data Scientist (Data Mining, Apache Mahout, Python,R,AI)

£60000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Senior Data Sc...

Data Scientist (SQL,Data mining, data modelling, PHD, AI)

£50000 - £80000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: Data Sci...

Java Developer - 1 year contract

£350 - £400 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Cent...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

The power of anonymity lies in the freedom it grants

Boyd Tonkin
Rebel fighters walk in front of damaged buildings in Karam al-Jabal neighbourhood of Aleppo on August 26, 2014.  

The Isis threat must be confronted with clarity and determination

Ed Miliband
Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone