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Last Updated: Friday, 9 June 2006, 09:11 GMT 10:11 UK
Richard Eyre
THIS WEEK
Sir Richard Eyre on BBC One's This Week
For all the diffidence that's at the heart of a lot of English people, many of them have a passionate, almost religious, veneration for things like the monarchy and the constitution and - I should talk - the honours system.
Sir Richard Eyre
We asked one of Britain's leading film and theatre directors, former head of the National Theatre, Sir Richard Eyre for his Take Of The Week.

If you've been on the moon for the last ten days, the reason all the flags are flying might have escaped you.

Of course, I'm as keen as the next man - or woman - or Englishperson - to see the English team win.

But there's something about the flag-waving that makes me feel uncomfortable.

What is it? Well, I suppose it's my Englishness. It's my diffidence, and if I feel uncomfortable about all the flag-flying and hysteria, it raises the question: how would I like to express my Englishness - and how can I?

Middle-class paradox

There are things I love about being English. The landscape. The literature. The theatre. All those cultural things that mark me out as being middle-class.

And being English middle-class, of course I'm diffident about the whole idea of expressing my nationhood.

But there is a paradox about the middle-class English.

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Sir Richard Eyre on BBC One's This Week

For all the diffidence that's at the heart of a lot of English people, many of them have a passionate, almost religious, veneration for things like the monarchy and the constitution and - I should talk - the honours system.

Easy way out

Of course, I wish that when governments and politicians felt the urge to ask us to express our nationhood, they did it through celebrating our culture, rather than taking the easy way out and asking us to wave flags on the occasions of wars and sporting events.

Just this week, we've seen Tessa Jowell and David Cameron (no fool he) both flag-waving in public.

And I guess that's why I'm put off.

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