London Lantern

Putting the Spotlight on London

A Review of The Pocket Book of Patriotism - Part Three

22/07/2005, By David McIntosh

Reader Rating: 2.9 from 16616 votes


Most of the people who have contacted him, he says, have been extremely positive about The Pocket Book of Patriotism and his effort at keeping alive the flame of British patriotism. “I’ve had an amazingly and totally undeserved, laterally a cascade of charming telephone calls and letters. It’s been a positive embarrassment.”

Something that should not be discounted is the importance of teaching history to young people and providing them with a foundation and understanding of the sacrifices that previous generations made in order to ensure and protect the liberties we as free people enjoy today and Courtauld says that now more than ever he feels it is vital that young Britons know and understand the events that turned a small group of islands off the coast of Europe into a nation that would drive the course of history and serve as a model for much of the world.

In The Pocket Book of Patriotism the reader is a small book chock full of information in the form of a time line starting with Stonehenge and continuing to the present day. One part of the time line tells us what was going on in Britain on a particular date while the other part has what happened in the rest of the world. Also included are verses from the Bible as well as excerpts from the Magna Carta, plays by William Shakespeare and the speeches of Winston Churchill.

If you don’t know the words of “God Save the Queen” Courtauld has thoughtfully included them and for those who can remember a pre-metric, pre-decimal world there is a chart of Imperial weights and measurements as well as a chart of how the British monetary system was before being simplified to just pence and pounds. You’ll also find useful information such as liquid volume for beer and ale. Next time you drop into the local ask the barkeep for four gills of your favorite stout. Four gills just happens to be a pint. What’s a gill say you? A gill is five fluid ounces. To put it succinctly Courtauld’s book is a storehouse of interesting and important information arranged in a neat little package.

Courtauld also bemoans, what he sees, as a decline in the old spirit of British independence. “We are at the verge of having 20% of the population of Britain dependent in some way on the government, whether working for the government, whether they’re taking welfare from the government, whether their jobs are in some way dependent on the government. That’s been an increasing tendency since the First World War and the Second World War and in times of war the government makes inroads into society and is pretty reluctant to hand back the things it takes over.”

Not only, in his opinion, does the intrusion of government into everyday mean that individuals find themselves enjoying less and less in the way of the freedoms that make for a civil society but, he also thinks, that greater government power means that government must cast a wary eye on the way of doing things that have become tradition because those traditions pose a threat to the power it enjoys. Something like patriotism, Courtauld adds, can also represent a threat to policies the politicians might favor.

He knows what he thinks of the political class in the Britain of today.

“Well, in order to have free reign to impose their world view on the rest of Britain they want to discourage any kind of passion or individualism or anything else, and at the moment our current government is desperate to integrate with Europe, which the vast majority of Britons are either indifferent or positively against. I would say that the government wants us to care about patriotism less and less in order that we don’t notice that they are encroaching more and more on our individual freedoms.”

What he thinks is needed is a patriotism of a non-bigoted or non-bullying sort that will make Britain a better place for future generations because “love of country is an absolute essential to the running of the country.” The project at hand now says the author of the surprise best-seller is for patriotism to “be won back for the bog-standard brit who loves his country” adding that “he jolly well should.”

For Americans interested in securing a copy of The Pocket Book of Patriotism the best way for now is to order one through Amazon’s UK site (www.amazon.co.uk) since it is not available in the United State, though there exists the possibility that could change in the coming year. For anyone interested in history and why love of one’s country it is an invaluable and handy resource and for anyone who still believes there is a place in the world for something as old-fashioned as patriotism they should be saying thanks to George Courtauld for deciding to take things into his own hands.

David McIntosh

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