I have declared August to be “Britain Is Cool Month” (winning out over “British Pride Month”, “British Heritage Month”, “British Celebration Month”, “Celebrate Cool British Stuff Month”, and “Britishfest”).Â My basic designation for “Britain” is the Tacitean one (as used in the Agricola) that covers the whole island — thus, Scotland, England, and Wales — but not Eire (not even Northern Ireland; it’s the UK of Great Britain and Northern Ireland).
Having a Britain Is Cool Month is important for those of us of British descent as well as everyone else who lives in a country that has a British language as the majority tongue, shares a monarch with Britain, forms queues/lines whilst waiting for things, uses the word “whilst”, teaches its youth Shakespeare.Â While I do not deny that not everything about Britain is good (entrenched class system that sometimes goes farther than whether you use coasters or not or sit on a settee or a couch, the Spice Girls, involvement in the African slave trade, and football hooliganism come to mind), there is still much to celebrate, and it’s worth celebrating (the parliamentary system, Doctor Who, James Bond, Scotch, Robbie Burns, Highland Dancing, King Arthur, GK Chesterton, Black Adder, CS Lewis, Winchester Cathedral, the British Museum, and my grandpa come to mind).
And, just as anyone can get drunk on St. Patrick’s Day, Caucasians go to Chinese New Year parties, Gentiles can celebrate Chanukah and some other Jewish holidays with the Jewish friends, many trousered men eat haggis on Robbie Burns’ Day, and atheists celebrate Christmas, so can anyone, British or not, join in celebrating the cool stuff this isle has contributed.
“But how can I celebrate Britain Is Cool Month?” you may ask.
It’s simple.Â Read some British books and British poetry.Â Learn about Wales.Â Go to a British play — there’s doubtless some Shakespeare being performed in a park near you this August!Â Or throw a Britain Is Cool Party where people can drink only British drinks (Scotch, British beers (neither Guinness nor Molson allowed), Irn Bru), eat British snacks (deep-fried Mars Bars, shortbread, fudge), listen to British music (Elgar, Purcell, the Beatles, Coldplay), and maybe read aloud some British poetry if you like that sort of thing (y’know, Burns, Stevenson, Shakespeare, Tennyson, Kipling, T.S. Eliot, John Donne).Â Watch a British movie or two (James Bond, Trainspotting, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, The Life of Brian, the “Carry On” films, The 39 Steps, Lawrence of Arabia).Â Watch some British TV (Doctor Who, Monty Python’s Flying Circus, My Family, Yes, Minister, Are You Being Served?, MI5).
Jennifer and I are kicking of Britain Is Cool Month with the Glengarry Highland Games in Maxville, Ontario.Â If you’re in Ottawa or thereabouts, you should come on down on Saturday!Â It’ll be fun!