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Last Updated: Saturday, 23 April 2005, 17:52 GMT 18:52 UK
St George's events 'not enough'
By Louise Scrivens
BBC News

St Patrick's Day is a worldwide excuse for a party. On St David's Day most of Wales is garlanded in daffodils, and many Scots have haggis and ceilidhs to mark St Andrew's Day. So what do the English do for St George?

Barry (the Elder)
Covent Garden was the scene of traditional music and dance

"Not enough" appears to be the consensus among the crowds who gathered in London to mark the occasion.

Despite an extensive programme of events organised for the capital, many visitors who spoke to BBC News felt the grey weather was no excuse for a "lack of enthusiasm" on England's saint's day.

Barry Edwick, a market stall owner on Portobello Road, Notting Hill, said he flew the England flag throughout the year.

"I think it's an outrage that St George's Day isn't a public holiday," he said.

When asked who St George was he said he was the "best dragon fighter ever".

"If you look up and down this market there is one other flag flying, there should be flags everywhere."

Public holiday

More than half a million people have signed a petition, delivered to Downing Street by cricket legend Ian Botham, calling for extra recognition for 23 April.

St George's Day in London

One pub had set up a "polling station" for people to sign a petition in support of the day becoming a public holiday.

Mark Poller, manager of The Elgin, said despite being an Australian he was fully behind more being done to mark the occasion.

"Until I started working here I had no idea who St George was," he said.

"I think it should be a holiday, we have a similar day in Australia and that is a holiday."

He said the company that owned the bar would set up polling stations in each of its 5,000 pubs in England.

"The managers plan to take all the petitions to Tony Blair," he added.

Anti-racism

He said they would put more flags up in the pub but people tended to "walk off with them".

Mayor of London Ken Livingstone supported a full programme of events in London including a parade, march and a wreath-laying at the Cenotaph in Whitehall.

An anti-racism event is being held in Trafalgar Square and members of The Royal Society of St George ensured Covent Garden was bedecked with English flags, bordering a full programme of family events including a Punch and Judy show, traditional English folk music and morris dancing.

Barry Edwick and Rocky Babb
Barry Edwick flies the English flag throughout the year

Ted Newton from the society said events to mark the occasion had improved over the last five years but it still was not enough for such an important occasion.

"I'm shocked by the amount of people who have been told by their local council to remove flags, attitudes really have to change, we're talking about flying the English flag," he added.

Ted Leighton, a shop owner in Covent Garden, said he had been told by a passer-by he was a "Nazi" for displaying the English flag.

"I was so shocked and told him that I would never take the flag down, things got heated and he ended up calling the police.

"Nothing happened but I said I would rather go to prison than take down the flag of St George.

"It's the most important day of the year and I have to work, it should definitely be a holiday. Not enough is done to mark the day."

Teenagers James and Daniel turned out decked in the English flag to take part in the celebrations and said they were disappointed by the events.

Despite it being only midday when they spoke to BBC News the patriotic pair said they were considering going home.

"We've been to Covent Garden and not a lot is happening, so we may go to Trafalgar Square and then go home," said James.

"We didn't realise how quiet it was going to be."




SEE ALSO
Do you celebrate St George's Day?
23 Apr 05 |  Have Your Say
Should we mark St George's Day?
24 Apr 02 |  Talking Point

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