I was suffering from writers' block this week until I read my friend's blog 'English Barber or a Pissed off Patriot' so I'm taking his theme and expanding on it. Whilst he was bemoaning the lack of opportunities for feeling English in a politically correct way and looking forward to the World Cup, I'm not really suffering from the same problem. Yes I know, as Winston Churchill said, "An English man is never a foreigner. Even abroad he is surrounded by foreigners!" but when you are the ONLY English person around you do feel slightly differently.
Actually it's quite cosy. I'm snug in my little 'English person' identity. I don't need to worry what people think about me, I am an unpredictable eccentric foreigner with odd habits. And as for patriotism, well people would think you were a bit strange if you didn't love your homeland in one form or another.
After watching Crash, which by the way I wouldn't recommend watching if you were thinking about moving to California, A and I decided to lighten our moods with 'L'herba di Grace' which I assume translates as 'Grace's Grass'. A low budget properly English film set in Cornwall, widowed Grace raises money to pay for the mortgage by growing pot. The film finishes with naked police men and old ladies getting very high and dancing round the garden as the greenhouse catches fire. It's light hearted comedy England at its best.
But as A pointed out, what makes it feel really English to him is the amount of times someone is offered a cup of tea in the film. he was totally right! No Italian film maker would dream of putting that many nice-sit-downs-with-a-cup-of-tea in a film. It had completely passed me by.
What makes you truly English, it seems to me, isn't cultural symbols like red telephone boxes, but the little every day ceremonies that you never think about.
Of course being English doesn't mean the same thing to everyone. One of my primary students asked me this week, "Where are you from?" to which I replied, "England," and then to help them out with their blank looks, "Inghilterra."
Her eyes widened with a look of recognition. Then,
"Is that in Australia?"