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England I Loathe and Love

Tweed jackets and trousers that are too long. The suicidal tendencies of their old ladies on bicycles. That their lawyers wear wigs. The Queen’s squeaky voice. Public schoolboys in uniform. Their stiff upper lip. The blitz spirit. English barmy sense of humor. Their patience in queues. Their ability to sit on your lap on a crowded train and pretend nothing is wrong. Their women are frumpy. The way the men wear white button down dress shirts for sports. The way they ignore the Welsh. Their reluctance to enter the twentieth century. Their attachment to the ‘airing cupboard.’ Their fondness for mystery stories. Their appreciation for gardening. That they like to hike wearing shorts, sturdy shoes and a hat. That they maintain the footpaths. That they complain a lot. That their national game takes four days, and no one can explain what’s going on. That they treat language like a poem. That they like trains. They like a bargain. That they are suspicious of religious enthusiasm.

And which of the English do I love best? C.S.Lewis, J.R.R.Tolkien, Evelyn Waugh, T.S.Eliot, Edith Sitwell, Jane Austen, Barbara Pym, Alec Guiness, Jeremy Irons, Margaret Thatcher, Charles I, St Thomas More, George Herbert, St Etheldreda, John Donne, Richard Crashaw, Philip Larkin, Elizabeth Jennings, St Edmund Campion,, Julian of Norwich, Dorothy Sayers, J.M.W.Turner, Henry VI, Samuel Palmer, the Wesleys, Cardinal Newman, Cuthbert Mayne, William Blake, Christopher Smart, Emma Thompson, John Cleese, Edward Elgar, Tallis, Ronnie Knox, Byrd, John Betjeman, Judy Dench, Brian Blessed, Maggie Smith, Hugh Laurie, Les Dawson, G.K.Chesterton, Francis Kilvert, Parson Woodeforde, Hilaire Belloc…

…oh, and last but not least–an English maiden named Alison Saunders.