Why be proud?

Last night, I was as hooked to my Twitter stream as I was to my TV. From friends to MPs to journalists, I was pushed nothing but a gushing outburst of raw patriotism. Everyone seemed to be genuinely touched by the ceremony and its apparent summary of all things British.

Which got me wondering what, exactly, we have as Brits to be proud of. I can’t say I was similarly moved by the sheep and Welsh fields and scenes of the Industrial Revolution. But the celebration of universal healthcare? Just a little bit. And by the time the medley of music began? Then I understood the feeling.

As I tweeted at the time, it really is in the realm of music that we could make a fair claim to be global top dog. From The Jam and Clash to Pink Floyd and David Bowie; Elton John and Queen; Phil Collins and Annie Lennox. The Rolling Stones. Does any other country have such a knock-out list? It was perfectly fitting that we rounded things off with a Beatle. The only thing that was missing and that I expected from Boyle was a tribute to our legends of the silver screen. Where were the clips of Chaplin and Hitchcock?

If there’s anything we should be prouder of, it could only ever be London. No other city is so magically steeped with history and art whilst swimming in architectural and cultural diversity. Try stumbling across hitherto hidden streets and squares in the gridded cities of America. Compare a stroll by the Seine with a walk down the Thames.

Add in our social openness, our form of government, and I think that’s amples to confidently exhibit. With Beijing ’08 still fresh in my mind, Rousseau, as always, seems relevant:

I am happy, when I reflect upon governments, to find my inquiries always furnish me with new reasons for loving that of my own country.

I’m almost forgetting that I’d still rather be an American.

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