A sceptred isle

I’ve just watched Kipchoge win the London Marathon in the second fastest time in history. About 1 1/2 hours faster than my best time! I’ve run five and I’d love to do another, but I guess I’m getting just a little bit too old….

(I was out running this morning, up on Painswick Beacon, with a view west for sixty miles, well into Wales. And there were carpets of bluebells, wood sorrel hiding beneath the trees, violets and cowslips underfoot as I crossed the common, and even the golfers were friendly…)

Back to the London Marathon, I love the fact that it brings the big wide world to London, an incredible international event, and won by Boris Johnson’s favourite nationality, a Kenyan.

This is the world I want to be a part of. Do we start with Britain, then admit, yes, we are Europeans as well – and then reluctantly accept that we might just be citizens of the world – or indeed deny the fact – claim that it’s enough to be English. English, note, not British.

Or do we start by asserting that we’re citizens of the world, and let everything follow from that. It’s easy to say that Britain should come first, especially if we grew up when there were still great swathes of pink (the old empire) on maps of the world. But we do well to remember that we are exceptional as British not as lonely flag-wavers but in the context of the big wide world. Blinkers do not serve us well.

All our yesterdays are no substitute for all our tomorrows. This sceptred isle is part of a continent, and we’d do well to recognise that.

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