The idea for what will be an on-going series of articles on individual English ‘icons’ sprang from an on-line conversation between two Scotsmen and three English people. The Tayside Two claimed that, whilst Scotland had a rich and diverse culture, England had fish and chips, football and beefeaters!
The Scots ended the chat, feeling quite superior; to go and feed the haggis, take their sporrans for a walk or some other cultural pursuit.
We were left scratching our heads. Mention Scotland and the images that spring to mind are bagpipes, kilts, lochs, mountains, tartans, highland cattle, heather etc.
What are the images of England that spring to mind though?
We each compiled a list, quite quickly, of six things that came to mind when we thought of England. My six were green fields with dry-stone walls, red telephone boxes, white cliffs, Elgar, soaring cathedrals and thatched cottages. The other two did the same and we have since asked a few other people. Our scientific sample totalled an eye-watering fourteen people from fairly diverse backgrounds and locations.
We ended up with eighty-four answers, some were the same, which was as we expected, but what was surprising, to us at least, was the fact that the majority of the ‘trigger items’ mentioned, of which there were about sixty, were either structural or geographical. Four of my six are structural.
Structures mentioned range from Stonehenge to the Eden Project via Tower Bridge. Geographical features include The Needles and The Thames.
Only four ‘people’ were mentioned Shakespeare, Elgar, The Queen and Beefeaters.
Only three ‘foods’, roast beef, fish and chips and real ale.
Only two pieces of music, Jerusalem and The Archer’s theme tune.
If the fashionista’s amongst you are wondering, there was only one item of clothing mentioned in our eighty-four, the mini-skirt! This was on the same list as “the chalk giant with the big willie!”
The compiler of the list is under observation!
As you have just read this it may not work for you to attempt to do the ‘six thing test’, but if there is anyone with you at the moment ask if they are willing to give it a try.