Oh my, this is pretty much close to priceless. Coming from the same people who brought you the concept of a motto for Britishness, now the latest idea is a pledge of allegiance for British teenagers.
Christ on a bike.
Try as I might, I'm struggling to envisage the scenario. Picture your typical 17-year-old, poised midway between child and adult. Teetering on the brink of bad ways, tempted by the lure of White Lightning-fuelled mischief. Perhaps a hooded top should be thrown into the mix.
But lo! A finely-crafted phrase, delivered in a faltering voice. Redolent of the ancient bard; words that speak of Britannia. Sentiments that scream freedom. Phrases that form a home. Moist of eye, our subject turns. A Damascene conversion is taking place. A shaft of sunlight falls through the clouds, bathing them in its ethereal glow. In the distance, the familiar refrain of 'Jerusalem' is heard. Our hero, hand on heart, takes their first steps on the path of righteousness. Civility, politeness, and a liking for cricket and warm beer must surely follow.
Hmmm. Maybe we need to suggest some words.
"I pledge allegiance to Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of Her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith."
Take a breath. You'll need it. Bless her, but can't we just call her 'Liz'? And it's a good job the Empire's not what it used to be - naming all the countries individually would have been a bit of a pain in the arse back in the 1930s.
"And that Philip fellow. He seems a decent enough chap. Well, entertaining, anyway, with his outbursts about Johnny Foreigner and all that."
"I'm also quite keen on the flag. It's quite a nice design; we've been able to avoid all those tiresome tricolours of the continental Europeans, whilst steering clear of all the dodgy ones the developing countries like. You know, those with the odd animals or funny scripts."
"One nation under God. If that's OK with you. And if it's not, that's fine. One nation under whatever belief system you find most relevant. One nation under the mythical pizza monster in the sky, if that's what floats your boat."
"I pledge to learn the words to the dead parrot sketch off by heart. For it is a classic example of the conflict between verificationism and semantic holism. No, I didn't understand that either. I shall form an orderly queue whenever necessary. Even when I'm by myself. I shall talk about the weather. A lot. The offside rule will be as second nature to me. And I shall snort derisively at anyone referring to the sport in question as 'soccer'."
"I will drive in the middle lane of the motorway, whilst bitching about everyone else that does the same. At any given time, I'll know the value of the last five houses that sold on my road, street or avenue. And I'll repeat this information at dinner parties."
"Morris dancing is, I understand, completely optional."