I’m An Englishman

Published on 8 November 2019 by BrickTop

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Last modified 19 October 2020

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A speech by a man called Laurence Bright, played by the excellent Marc Warren.

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“I’m an Englishman. I’m from Bermondsey, South-East London. My father was called George. He was also from Bermondsey. His father, another Bermondsey man, was called George too. And his father, my great-grandfather, is from the same place. He was called Edward.

“These three generations of my family, were in the fish trade. I’m the first member of my family not to work at the market in Billingsgate. My great-grandfather had eleven brothers and sisters. I dont know exactly how many of his generation married or exactly how many children they produced. I’ve so far tracked over two-hundred of them.
Many still live in Bermondsey. Some are still in the fish trade.

“There are seven called George, and five called Victoria. I stand here, in front of you, as a representative of all of them. And I ask in their name the great question put by our patron, Mr Powell. What do they know of England, who only England know? Or, what can my family, who come from England, who lived in England, who know only England, say of this, our country?

“Mr Powell once spoke of the destruction of ancient Athens and the miraculous survival in the blackened ruins of that city of the sacred olive tree; the symbol of Greece, their country. And he also spoke of us, the English, at the heart of a vanished empire, seeming to find within ourselves that one of our own oak trees, the sap rising from our ancient roots, and he said perhaps, after all, we who have inhabited this island fortress for an unbroken thousand years, brought up, as he said, within the sound of English bird song under the English oak, in the English meadow, beneath the red cross of St. George, it is us who know most of England.

“And I appreciated him for saying that, because it was as if he spoke for my family, who understand well their own country. Who understand even better their own capital, London town, as we used to call her. As we strolled in her parks, as we marveled at her palaces, as we did buisness in the city, went west for a dance, took a boat on the river. The pale ale and eel pie of old London. The London of my family for as many generations as I know. The London that will in less than fifteen years will be less than fifty percent white. London, where in fifteen years a white person will be in the minority.

“Am I racist? No. Do I have anything against people of other races? No. So what then is my gripe?

“My gripe, and I speak on behalf of seven men called George and five women called Victoiria, my gripe is quite simple.

“My gripe is that we were never asked. My gripe is that we were told, not asked, and everyday we are told again and again how we are to be and how our country is to be. We are told by them, and we know who they are, they’re English too. They are the class that has always set themselves apart, they are the class that has always taken what they wanted for themselves, and now they are the class that is giving England away.
They have never asked us, and they never will.

“Do we allow them to sell our heritage? Or is it time for us to speak?

“To speak, to refuse them the right to give away our holy, or bountiful, our only England that has, that has nurtured us, naked, grown us as the oak. Is it time for us that England know to come yet again and defend our country? With our fire, our fists?

“Is it time for us sons to rise again?

“I say yes.

“I say yes.I say… Yes.”