Category Archives: england

Bluebells at Welshbury Hill, Forest of Dean

There was a breathtaking display of bluebells this year at this Iron Age fort in the forest.

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Crop circle aliens are vandals

The silly-season, sorry, crop-circle season story of the man arrested in a crop circle for allegedly firing a shotgun to deter sightseers provoked the following thought:

There are those who marvel at the amazing complexity of some of the crop formations and find mathematical and symbolic meaning in them that, they say, is proof that they are not made by humans. Well, I’m in the “made by humans” camp but am willing to listen to those with sound, scientifically valid evidence who believe otherwise. However, what I’m not willing to do is marvel at how “advanced” these aliens are.

They are vandals that cause thousands of pounds worth of damage. If they really need to communicate profound insights into human destiny, surely it’s not beyond them to learn one of our major languages or send a radio broadcast? I mean, if I were trying to convey information to creatures on a remote planet, I wouldn’t thoughtlessly make cryptograms in their valuable crops, causing damage and costing the alien farmers money.

That would just be a display of selfish criminal damage akin to graffiti.

If extraterrestrials are making crop circles, they are certainly not gentlemen 😉

England or Britain? A guide for Americans and too many English people

“We call our islands by no less than six different names, England, Britain, Great Britain, the British Isles, the United Kingdom and, in very exalted moments, Albion. How can one make a pattern out of this muddle?”

George Orwell, The Lion and the Unicorn

This BBC News article, combined with a recent visit to the USA reminded me of the misunderstanding that exists in the minds of not just Americans and others but – embarrassingly – English people about when to use the word words England and English. I should stress that I don’t believe it’s malicious; more a bad habit whose avoidance can prevent giving offence to those born in the constituent countries of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland outside England. I also stress that I’m no constitutional expert: my own qualifications are merely having been born in England and living in Wales.

Credit: Wikipedia

In short England is used wrongly to refer to the sovereign state whose formal name is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. This misuse went on in political circles until relatively recently, with Winston Churchill speaking during World War Two of ‘England’ when he was referring to the aformentioned sovereign state. Or was he? There’s an essay for a first year PPE student.

Recent devolution of some government powers away from the United Kingdom government and parliament in Westminster to Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland have served to make this issue more important to handle sensitively.

My guide for the uncertain:

  • Only use England when referring to the constituent country called England. Don’t use England if you mean the United Kingdom. If you are talking about someone or something from Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland and the constituent country is relevant, don’t say ‘English’. Say Welsh, Scottish or Northern Irish. If you’re not sure, see below.
  • Use ‘Britain’ or ‘The United Kingdom’, or ‘The UK’  when referring to the United Kingdom or if you’re not sure – or it’s not relevant – to which constituent country you are referring. The same goes for the adjective British.