A few hours ago I stood in a field amid thousands of people at an outdoor concert. The English are rarely given to open displays of patriotism, but tonight we stood as one and sang together 'Land of Hope and Glory'.
Next to me a girl was waving her Union Flag high in the air. As she sang the words ' God, who made thee mighty, make thee mightier yet', tears flowed down her cheeks.I live a few miles from the Norman town of Battle. Every year a concert is held on the field where the Battle Of Hastings was fought in 1066. On that day the English were defeated.
Tonight I joined in an evening of music and song by the London Symphonia and opera superstar Leslie Garrett.
I went well prepared. I packed myself a little picnic of English cheddar salad , Chelsea buns and a bottle of Sussex wine, and set of with my three legged stool and my camera.
A walk through the grounds of the Abbey brought me to the battle field where I marked out my territory and settled down for an orgy of culture and entertainment. All around groups were organising their tables, chairs and candelabra, and tucking to elaborate meals washed down with fine wines and champagne.
The evening started with a selection of English music during which a WW11 Spitfire performed a series of low level manoeuvres above my head.
We were then treated to pieces from well known operas. I simply melted to the sound of Puccini's 'O mio babbino caro'.
Unfortunately the group immediately in front of me seemed oblivious to the wonderful music being played out before them, and talked among themselves as loudly as possible as if the orchestra was some kind of intrusion in their conversation! It occurred to me that they might have been better off by saving themselves 24 pounds a ticket and had a picnic in another field! So I moved!
Once again I set up my area, and enjoyed a feast of songs from the musicals. As the evening went on , the sun set, and a huge moon appeared above the trees.
Later in the proceedings we got all patriotic! The crowd were suddenly silenced as the opening chords of Elgar's Nimrod filled the air. This piece of music is so emotive - so quintessentially English. I closed my eyes, raised my glass into the air, then suddenly one leg of my little stool sank in the ground, sending me flying onto my back, showering me with wine!
I regained my composure and wallowed in sentimentality as the strains of Jerusalem, Pomp and Circumstance and Land of Hope and Glory brought the multitude to their feet. All around was a sea of red white and blue flags. Any thoughts of one day leaving this sceptred Isle, evaporated into the warm night air. Then the sky filled with colour as a firework display danced along with the orchestra in a magnificent and moving climax to a truly wonderful evening of entertainment.
Land of Hope and Glory, fortress of the Free,
How may we extol thee, praise thee, honour thee.