Watched a great documentary on the English Republic the other night (or the ‘what-in-the?? You were never a republic. You’ve always been a monarchy. We point at you and laugh about it’ if you’re American and we’ve done a good enough job of convincing you we didn’t try out the Republic thing, bin it, pass laws to forget it ever happened, and reinstate the monarchy). Mid to late 1600s, if you want to check.
Anyhow, it was thinking about the extent that being a Roundhead or Cavalier (in the actual Civil War sense rather than any … keep it clean and appropriate, guys. I’m aware of the vernacular) hasn’t gone away. It’s why people outside England have a problem defining Englishness. Are we a group of abiding-by-the-rules, proper manners, order-and-appropriateness finger wagging nerds or lager-lager-lager-shouting-mega-mega-white-thing* partying, rioting, Ibiza and Henley (class doesn’t come into this) loving free-spirited hippy hooligans? Both, it turns out.
The first is the Roundhead influence. They set up bureaucracy and systems and bowler-hatted professionalism. They also are the voice of democratic equality and duty.
The second is Cavalier influence. Do what you like. Feel how you want. Don’t give a flying fig what anyone else thinks. Live for the now. The hippies and entrepreneurs and footie fanatics and Oxford University Ball attendees, and new age travellers all fall under this influence.
The pull of both influences is so strong that, regardless of its roots, it cuts through class and culture divides. It’s why people in other countries couldn’t understand at all how so many different groups of people united during the English riots a few years back. It’s because, for a moment, they were all cavaliers. So many different groups of people united against that during the daylight hours when the cavaliers were sleeping it off. They took to the streets and swept them, while police used riot shields as trays for tea. They were roundheads.
For the most part, my ancestors were probably cavaliers, but I think a healthy balance of the two is what makes this country the kind of place that would create the slogan ‘keep calm and carry on’ and not only be able to carry on, with roundheaded stoicism, but party on with elaborate insanity throughout a double dip recession. Having both elements is like using two kinds of wood in a bow. It makes us stronger and more resilient.
*Random 90s music ref. Here’s the vid.
Love to all my roundhead and cavalier friends (and roundelier and cavalierhead friends too)
Rebecca (descended from King Henry VIII, but also a bit of a democracy nerd. Parties like a rock star, and tidies up in the morning). Cavalierhead.
P.S. This appeals to my cavalierhead ways. Established and part of the foundation of all modern online marketing on the one hand, but wildly entrepreneurial and brand new, and bright and shiny and … (oh joy!) in beta on the other hand. Exclusive for now, inclusive later. For all my free-thinking, free-spirited, highly disciplined nerd-hippy friends, this is for you. Get your name on the list while there’s still time. Hardly anyone knows about this yet. It’s not what you think. Here’s a vid in which I explain exactly what it is. Costs you nothing to get your name on the list and you can get out at any time: Secret list.