In a summer set to be packed with Olympic sport and international football, the proudly patriotic among us will, no doubt, be sporting union jack shorts and cross of St George facepaint all too frequently. There will, of course, be much excitement, a lot of cider and, inevitably, some degree of idiocy here and there.
The last time the Olympics were in London was in 1948, now referred to nostalgically as 'the austerity games' [irony klaxon]. Britain was battered, bruised and proud. And poor. This summer sees a nation citing poverty while never once steering their gaze form the 47" plasma screen HD television on the wall. Still, like 1948, 2012 sees a nation stung, to a lesser extent of course, by the realisation of what our troops have been experiencing in foreign fields; in the wadis and dustbowls of Afghanistan.
Thanks to causes like Help For Heroes and the quite wonderful Royal British Legion, we are learning some of the lessons of war before the conflict is over. While the rest of Britain thumps its chest with pride at a silver medal in the clean-and-jerk, a small army of veterans will be contributing to another fine account of bravery and reality, courtesy of the Bravo 22 theatre company. Bravo 22 has been formed by wounded, injured and sick service personnel specifically to stage The Two Worlds of Charlie F, a new play by Owen Sheers, which follows the stories of injured soldiers from the battlefield back to the UK and the hospital beds of Headley Court. Produced from true accounts from war veterans, the play charts the ups, downs, heartache and prescription drug-fuelled hallucinations of injured soldiers and their journey back to a new reality.
So, puff your chest out, sing for Queen and country and buy a ticket to see The Two Worlds of Charlie F. It's your duty.
Owen Sheers' new work is running at the New Alexandra Theatre in Birmingham for three days from Thursday 19th July 2012, with an evening performance each day and two on Saturday 21st July. We have tickets available now, priced £14.50 to £29.50.
After Birmingham, the work moves onto The Sherman Cymru in Cardiff (25th to 28th July, £15 - £22), then The Pleasance Grand in Edinburgh (7th to 11th August, £12.50 - £15) before landing in London (6th to 8th September, venue TBC).