Sunday, 24 May 2009

St George’s Day in Dubai

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I am very aware that the Patron Saint of England is St George, but when someone asked me when St George’s Day was, I am ashamed to say that I stumbled . . . . “April the something”, was about as far as I got.

It is, in fact, April 23rd.

So, why, as a fully fledged relatively patriotic Brit, do I not know this date? Probably because no-one I know actually celebrates the day. To my knowledge (and apologies to my parents if we used to celebrate it as a child) I do not ever remember celebrating St George’s Day. Why not? The Irish always celebrate St Patricks Day and the Aussie's have their ANZAC day.

However, my second year in Dubai provided something rather special to commemorate the day.

We were invited to attend a picnic in the grounds of the British Embassy, to watch and listen to the Royal Marines Band, and what a treat it was.

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We arrived, the staunch British, with passports in our hands, ready to go through the metal detectors which would allow us into the Embassy grounds. Temperatures were around 38 degrees that day, yet that did not deter us. We lugged our picnic hampers, coolers, chairs and picnic blankets onto the lawns and set up for the afternoon. How lovely it was – there were lots of sandwiches, strawberries, Pimms and ”tally-ho” British accents in attendance. Little girls called Arabella and boys called Tarquin ran around waving English flags having a fine time – happy to just run around in the grass, while their parents read The Times.

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The band struck up with their opening tune – the theme tune to Star Wars. Not quite so British, but Oliver loved it (Star Wars and Indiana Jones being the hot topics in our house). It wasn’t long before we were singing along to Land of Hope and Glory – I felt as though I were transported back 40 years into a scene of England past. The band started marching around the grounds, while the children revelled in it, following them and playing tambourines and pretending to be soldiers. Nothing relating to modern England existed in
this little pocket of Dubai for these three magical hours.

Click here for a little clip of the afternoon.

It was such a fantastic day – I was proud to be British!

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