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Why do you write to me, ‘God should punish the English’? I have no close connection to either one or the other. I see only with deep regret that God punishes so many of His children for their numerous stupidities, for which only He Himself can be held responsible; in my opinion, only His non-existence could excuse Him. Albert Einstein
Chaz came down and heard me and asked, Would I like to come to England and start a group there? He seemed like a sincere guy and I’d never been to England before. Jimi Hendrix: Voodoo Child
I wasn’t thinking about nothing but the idea of going to England. That’s all I’m thinking about. ’Cause I like to travel. One place bores me too long. ibid.
She had a tall man’s height or more
No bonnet screened her from the heat
A long drab-coloured coat she wore
A mantle reaching to her feet
Before me begging did she stand
Pouring out sorrows like the sea
Grief after grief on English land
Such woes I knew could never be. William Wordsworth, Beggars
Good people, things cannot go right in England and never will until goods are held in common, and there are no more serfs and gentle-folk but we are all one and the same. John Ball, sermon to rebels 1383
What art thou, freedom? Oh, could slaves
Answer from their living graves
This demand, tyrants would flee
Like a dream’s dim imagery.
Thou art not, as imposters say,
A shadow soon to pass away
A superstition and a name
Echoing from the cave of fame.
For the labourer thou art bread,
And a comely table spread
From his daily labour come
To a neat and happy home.
Thou art clothes and fire and food,
For the trampled multitude
No – in countries that are free
Such starvation cannot be
As in England now we see. Percy Bysshe Shelley, The Masque of Anarchy
Men of England, wherefore plough
For the lords who lay ye low? Percy Bysshe Shelley, Song to the Men of England
Freedom which in no other land will thrive,
Freedom an English subject’s sole prerogative. John Dryden
But ’tis the talent of our English nation,
Still to be plotting some new reformation. John Dryden
After all, we’re not savages, we’re English, and the English are better at everything. Lord of the Flies 1963 starring James Aubrey & Tom Chapin & Hugh Edwards & Roger elwin & Tom Gaman & David Surtees & Simon Surtees & Nicholas Hammond et al, director Peter Brook, Jack
Come friendly bombs and fall on Slough
It isn’t fit for humans now,
There isn’t grass to graze a cow.
Swarm over, Death! John Betjeman 1906-1984, Slough 1937
Oh! Chinzy, Chinzy cheeriness,
Half dead and half alive! John Betjeman, Death in Lemington, 1931
Phone for the fish-knives, Norman
As Cook is a little unnerved;
You kiddies have crumpled the serviettes
And I must have things daintily served.
Are the requisites all in the toilet?
The frills round the cutlets can wait
Till the girl has replenished the cruets
And switched on the logs in the grate.
It’s ever so close in the lounge, dear,
But the vestibule’s comfy for tea
And Howard is out riding on horseback
So do come and take some with me.
Now here is a fork for your pastries
And do use the couch for your feet;
I know what I wanted to ask you -
Is trifle sufficient for sweet?
Milk and then just as it comes, dear?
I’m afraid the preserve’s full of stones;
Beg pardon, I’m soiling the doilies
With afternoon tea-cakes and scones. John Betjeman, How to Get on in Society, 1954
The English, and the Americans following them are paralysed by fear. That is what thwarts and distorts the Anglo-Saxon existence … Nothing could be more lovely and fearless than Chaucer. But already Shakespeare is morbid with fear, fear of consequences. That is the strange phenomenon of the English Renaissance: this mystic terror of the consequences, the consequences of action. D H Lawrence, Phoenix, 1936
Curse the blasted, jelly-boned swines, the slimy, the belly-wriggling invertebrates, the miserable soddingrotters, the flaming sods, the snivelling, dribbling, dithering, palsied, pulse-less lot that make up England today. They've got white of egg in their veins, and their spunk is that watery it’s a marvel they can breed. D H Lawrence, letter to Edward Garnett 1912
The real tragedy of England as I see it, is the tragedy of ugliness. The country is so lovely: the man-made England is so vile. D H Lawrence, Nottingham and the Mining Countryside, 1936
He spoke of the English, a noble race, rulers of the waves, who sit on thrones of alabaster, silent as deathless gods. James Joyce, Ulysses, 1922
And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England’s mountains green?
And was the holy man of God on
England’s pleasant pastures seen? William Blake
But the deal that made England great was this idea: kidnap Africans, sell them in Barbados for sugar, sell that in America for tobacco, and make yourself a million. James Burke, Connections s1e7: The Long Chain, BBC 1978
England? Naah. Fucking place. It’s a dump. Don’t make me laugh. Grey, grimy, sooty, what a shithole. What a toilet. Every cunt with a long face shuffling about moaning. All worried. Sexy Beast 2000 starring Ray Winstone & Ben Kingsley & Amanda Redman & Ian McShane & James Fox et al, director Jonathan Glazer, Winstone
The things I do for England. You Only Live Twice 1967 starring Sean Connery & Donald Pleasence & Akiko Wakabayashi & Tetsuro Tamba & Lois Maxwell & Teru Shimada & Karin Dor & Bernard Lee & Desmond Llewelyn et al, director Lewis Gilbert, Bond
America is a land whose centre is nowhere;
England one whose centre is everywhere. John Updike, Picked Up Pieces, 1976
A soggy little island huffing and puffing to keep up with Western Europe. ibid.
Ever since I come into England and er I found England was a heavenly place for me. I don’t care who else finds it difficult. But for me it’s Heaven. When you leave from slavery and go into a place where you are free I couldn’t go back there. Because if anybody spin on me I’ll kill ’em. Everybody here know me including the police so I’m known by everybody here and this is home for me. Champion Jack Dupree
Austin Powers: No actually I’m English.
American man in public bathroom: I’m sorry. Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery 1997 starring Mike Myers & Elizabeth Hurley & Robert Wagner & Seth Green & Mindy Sterling & Michael York & Fabiana Udenio & Will Ferrell & Mimi Rogers & Joe Son & Paul Dillon & Charles Napier et al, director Jay Roach