The George and Dragon – A Green and Pleasant Land?
‘The George & Dragon’…this legend adorns the sign outside the pub, together with the traditional depiction of St. George slaying the winged beast of yore. For those not in the know, this image goes to the heart of being English; we have a St. George’s Day and indeed he is the Patron Saint of England.
Bearing in mind that George was a Greek, born in what is now Israel, this got me thinking about the idiosyncrasies of patriotism, and in particular how it applies to the multi faceted United Kingdom; a concept that binds the likes of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland together.
The Union Flag
The current ‘Union Jack’ (as it is more commonly known) dates from the Union of Great Britain and Ireland in 1801. The flag combines aspects of three national flags: the red cross of Saint George, the red saltire of Saint Patrick’s Flag, and the Flag of Scotland. There is no Welsh element to the flag, as Wales was part of the Kingdom of England when the flag was first created in 1606.
Armed with this information, I was keen to hear the views of Vern (otherwise known as George), the owner of this quintessentially British pub, on what it is to be ‘British’ in 2012…
To Theme or Not to Theme
The pub is tucked away in the heart of Sea World in Shekou and is found by following the little side street next to Romas restaurant, behind the Taizi hotel. On rounding the corner, you are met by an attractive patio area, complete with gas burners, allowing patrons to sit outside regardless of the dropping temperatures. The inside is warm and welcoming with plenty of woodwork adding to the ambiance.
Many non-Brits find it hard to tell the difference between ‘British’ pubs and their Irish cousins, so I put this question to Vern. ‘In Sea World, as in many other places, you can find all kind of themed bars and restaurants, from Spanish Tapas, Mexican, Thai and American sports bars, none of which necessarily means that they are run or owned by Mexican, Thai, Spanish or American people’ he states.
‘I think the essential difference with the George & Dragon is that we’ve gone for an authentic styled British pub, which reminds me of many of the places I used to frequent when I was younger’ he continues, after further reflection. On checking out the brass ware and various other pieces on display, I have to agree that the bar is indeed a genuine slice of ‘back home’ nostalgia.
The other element Vern focuses on is the excellent menu, offering such staples as Bangers and Mash, Fish & Chips and the ever popular Sunday Pot Roast, usually consumed on…er..Sunday. British food is not venerated as much as its French or Italian cousins, something of an oversight in my opinion. British food is classic cold weather food; it’s warm, welcoming, tasty and filling.
He also manages to be the only place in the area that keeps Marston’s Pedigree on tap, a real bonus for those who appreciate a decent pint of ale.
What Does It Mean to be ‘British’?
As we move back to patriotism, I ask Vern, a dyed in the wool Yorkshire man, whether he considers himself to be English or British? ‘Oh, British, especially as I’ve lived abroad for so long…these distinctions blur around the edges when you live in a truly international community.’
For those Brits missing home at the festive season, the G & D will be an absolute oasis. As you would expect, there’s a full Xmas Dinner on the 25th with all the trimmings, and a real party atmosphere.
It’s not all about tradition, though…Vern is quite prepared to embrace modern and alternative ideas. For example, anyone fancying something a little out of the ordinary should turn up at the bar this Sunday, where the team are figuring out how to cook a 2 metre crocodile in a 1 meter barbeque! ‘Tastes like chicken’ says Vern…I for one will be there to see if this urban myth is true…