3. English Food is, for the most part, unjustly maligned. Bangers and mash, toad in a hole, plum pudding, Stilton cheese, a big rare slab of roast beef with Yorkshire pudding, fish and chips … I could go on. Isn’t your mouth watering?
4. English Pop Music is fab, the toppermost of the poppermost. When I first lived in England Swinging London was at its pinnacle, The Beatles were No. 1 in my book and tuning into “Top of the Pops” every week to learn what song was No. 1 was my weekly ritual. (“Yes, it’s Number 1, it’s Top of the Pops!”) Because people were relatively poor and albums relatively new, people of all ages bought 45s, and the English charts had a democratic spirit where rockers, middle-of-the-road crooners and novelty coexisted. The Top 50 Chart for January 26th, 1967 amazingly included songs by Cat Stevens, Tom Jones, The Who, The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix (American, but he had an English band and had become a sort of honorary Brit), Cream, The Troggs, Donovan, The Kinks, The Easybeats, The Spencer Davis Group, Engelbert Humperdinck, and The Small Faces. (The novelty entry that week was the best-forgotten “Snoopy Versus the Red Baron” by The Royal Guardsmen.) I still listen to this stuff 50 years on, and I defy you to name a better time for pop music.
5. English History and Royalty. History is about more than great men and women, but English kings, queens, princes and princesses come close to proving that this might not be so. Henry V rallying his “band of brothers” at Agincourt, the probable murder of the two princes in the Tower by their uncle, Richard, Elizabeth I repelling the Spanish Armada, mad George III losing his American colonies, Edward VIII abdicating his throne for “the woman I love,” and, of course, the fairytale wedding but eventual tragic death of Princess Diana — how can you resist these stories that are so human, but somehow more so?
6. Soccer — fluid, graceful, improvisational, spatial, tense — is the greatest sport there is and, if not invented by, its rules were certainly standardized by the English; they may not be the greatest soccer practitioners in the world, but they have had their moments, including the World Cup victory they grabbed from West Germany within a few weeks after I moved there in 1966. I became a Chelsea fan and would stand in the terrace behind the goal shouting, “Osgood is good!” with the other fans or, when Chelsea was away, watch Queens Park Rangers play at Loftus Road or, once, venture to the East End to see the Hammers of West Ham. There is nothing as rousing as hearing Liverpool supporters sing “You’ll Never Walk Alone.”