So this is my Britain:
A land of rugged rocks on shores with crashing waves;
A land of green rolling hills,
Meadows of gaily coloured flowers alive with insects;
The chirp of crickets, the buzz of bees, the scurry of beetles and the bob of butterflies;
The darting of lizards into crisped undergrowth, the rustle of mice, voles and hedgehogs.
In the dappled glades of the forest remnants the fallow deer chew alertly. Under hedges rabbits venture from their burrows, adders, grass-snakes and slowworms bask in the sun, soaking up the heat, or languish in safety under the corrugated tin.
In the fields the red poppies bob among the feather-top grasses, the purple thistle stands erect and the yellow buttercup and dandelion gleam like tiny glowing suns.
In the streams the stickle-backs dart, frogs are still with eyes protruding, prone within the water and newts crawl lugubriously between the fronds of water weed as pond skaters skim above.
On the seashores and mudflats the waders scamper and peck as the waves recede, the gulls soar, glide and call, crabs peer from beneath rocks and barnacles scoop specks from out the water.
This is the land of moors of purple heather and green bracken, of lakes, lochs and cwms, abandoned mines and standing stones, of brochs, long barrows, burial chambers and castles, that signify the history, the mystery and long faded memory of the past, vestiges of by-gone eras.
This is my Britain:
A place populated by a mongrel race whose stride was large enough to girdle the whole earth, whose imagination has changed the world, who have left their mark in time, in every continent, in every clime.
A race rooted in Celt, in Pict, in Angle, Saxon, Norse, Roman and Norman, and later, as the trade routes opened up the world, in Asian, African, Australian, American and beyond – a mixture of races full of hybrid vigour and the purity of nascent blends; and all the stronger for it. Whose very language reflects this rich history of intermingling, so diverse, so expressive, so vibrant, so fluid – as if the opulence of genes flows forth from effervescent minds through the versatility of tongues. For though rooted in our European traditions we have incorporated the whole gamut of mankind and extracted the best to create something all the greater.
These are the people from whom I have descended – the outward looking, the brave and adventurous, those that rose to the challenge and sought the novel, whose poets revealed, whose story-tellers delighted ears, whose adventurers ignited spirits, whose philosophers dared to question, whose inventors and scientists harnessed wonder and whose dreams reached for the stars.
These were the people whose compassion and tolerance created hope and homes; whose spiritual buccaneers tackled mysteries and whose first response was the helping hand.
This is my Britain:
A land of contrasts, of variety, of peace, serenity and wonder,
A land of pleasant folk, with varied traditions and minds of scope,
A land of scholars, wisdom and industry,
A land full of history, yet still reaching for the future.
From these rocky shores, sandy bays and welcoming harbours, we still reach out to embrace the beyond.
From this place of culture and civilisation we welcome in the new, to incorporate and grow.
This is my Britain!
Not an insular island, alone, but a thriving centre, a focus of trade, a flourishing nest of humanity, a creative force, a smiling face of civilised companionship, reaching out to the world, living at one with nature.
Not the warlords, not the politicians, not the mean-minded bigots, the small-minded nationalists, the money-grabbers and life-suckers, but the musicians, the artists, the scientists, dancers, the merry-makers, singers, swashbucklers, free spirits, travellers, roamers, explorers, dreamers, builders, players, writers, poets and the ordinary folk whose smiles and gleeful voices are an example for us all.
Yes, this is my Britain,
A gleaming island, a green jewel, surrounded by cleansing waves, whose people have this spirit to delve and solve the greatest ambiguities, to shine light into the darkness and turn the bitterest bile into the sweetest nectar.
This is the Britain I am part of, stem from and take with me where-ever I tread.
This is my Britain.
This is my Britain.
I wrote a poem much like this many years ago. I put it to a pastoral piece of music by Frinzi. I melded it to a slide-show of my photographs of Britain – from the mountains and lochs of Scotland, through the green valleys of Ireland and Wales, the moors and forests of England to the abandoned tin mines of Cornwall – incorporating the flowers, wildlife and Neolithic rocks.
I showed it a number of times and it always garnered a good response.
Unfortunately I lost it. I have searched for a number of years as its memory festered in my mind.
Finally, today, I decided that enough was enough. I wrote it again.
This is not the same poem but the elements are mostly there. In these days of Brexit, with its mean-minded insularity, and fear-ridden hatred, I wanted to reaffirm my belief and faith in a better Britain, one based on the love, creativity, friendliness and expansive, welcoming nature that I crave. That is the Britain that I love, that is what gives me hope and strength.
That is the Britain I want. That is my Britain.