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Britishness – Poem: mongrels of the world, and proud of it


The British are not ethnic
we’re the mongrels of the world
an antidote to racism harbingers of hope
we give the living lie
to the hateful myth of blood
What we are is mingled, muddled, mixed
conquered by the Romans
yet inspired by the Greeks
we are passionate moderation
hating all extremes
of race of politics and faith

We long to be well led
but hate all government
We have conquered
and yes exploited worlds
but returned them with a will
We have enslaved peoples
yet somehow set them free
We are weary warriors
grown tired of death and hate
but still subjects no one shall
ever subjugate

We were Saxon Angle Pict and Scot
with the spice of Celtic salt
and a dash of Viking yeast
to ferment our ethnic brew
now African, Asian, Caribbean peoples too
Jew and Christian Muslim and Hindu
Bhuddist Zoroastrian a Jedi knight or two
Our engineers helped build the world
our scientists its thought
our language is a melting pot you see
of Shakespeare Dickens and Eliots George and T

We are complicated simple folk
who like to fight and drink
we even sometimes love to sing
though dancing you will think
is not yet quite our thing.
Through conquest empire
arrogance and shame
through every heresy
of every faith
we’ve learnt they are impostors all
and treat them just the same

So come all and join us
come share what we can see
we’ll make you laugh
we’ll make you cry
at our genteel hypocrisy
we’ll mock your faith
to keep it safe
from deluded certainty
we’re black and white
and every shade between
absurdity our only creed

We see through hats and suits and ties
through crowns and burkhas
epaulettes and gowns
to the naked foolishness
of human frailty
We are fool and king
genius and ass
but in our diversity
we hold one true thing dear
In thought and deed and faith
a passion to stay free

All you need to join us
is a bloody-minded streak
to stand up for the underdog
outgunned but still not weak
Our only hates are show-offs
and demagoguery
we demand the right to argue
to question challenge disagree
but leave your Gods in heaven
where they must ever be
your only sacredness is your humanity.

British Muslim, British Jew
Christian English Welsh and Scot
with a transcendental Irishness
we hate the nation state
privilege and patronage
and self aggrandisement
through a history of suffering and hate
we are many mongrel peoples
united in dissent
holding hands for comfort
as we face a common fate

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