Thursday, 22 December 2011

National Identity

I have always felt lucky and proud to be British, or English, but it's not something I chose.

It seems that a rather mindless nationalism is taking hold again in some places.

Which got me wondering.

During WWII the great music hall act of Flanagan and Allen kept up morale in UK.  Perhaps nothing better summed up the English than Bud Flanagan and his partner Chesney Allen.  To those of a certain age and many others, songs like "run rabbit" "We're going to hang out the washing on the Siegfried line"  "underneath the arches" can summon up great emotions. Bud Flanagan even recorded the theme song for the TV programme, Dads Army - "who do you think you are kidding Mr Hitler" which many people (wrongly) believe to date  from the second world war.

Bud Flannagan however,   (aka Chaim Reuben Weintrop) was born in the east end of London, but his parents were polish jews who thought they had been sold a ticket to new york to escape a pogrom.

Sid James star of the carry on films and who appeared in dozens of others was at one time the most famous cockney -   he was of course South African.

James Robertson Justice - star of the Doctor Films (Sir Lancelot Spratt - what's the bleeding time ?) is famous for being the bark worse than his bite irascible Scotsman -  playing much the same character and accent even when portraying a pyramid builder in Egypt !   He was born in London, brought up in Kent and  although his father was born in Aberdeen, his father loathed the Scots.    Even the Robertson was added to his name for effect!

Terry Thomas - who played the upper class cad and bounder in innumerable films and tv shows, was born into a typical working class family.

How strong the impressions we get from these people.  How much of it is an illusion ?

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