Review: PatriotismLike any right-thinking person, I understand that England is a desperately mediocre country where everyone is always either embarrassed or drunk. The main things this country has going for it are Topshop and my friends. But for some reason, in conversation with the Elephant Man, who is resolutely foreign, I find hidden reserves of patriotism I never knew I had. He makes some very good points – restaurants are expensive and bad here; everything closes early; people dress badly – to which all I have to say is “Italian pop music”. QED.
My grandfather and his brother have been doing some delving around in the family history recently – elderly people like this kind of thing, as they are running out of living people to be younger than. The key finding of these investigations, by their lights, is that their grandfather was in fact a naturalised British citizen, making the family “more British than Michael Howard”. How we celebrated.
I once went for an interview at the British Council for a job teaching English in Senegal. They asked how students overseas might perceive the English. Having spent a month teaching Spanish and Hungarian teenagers, I was prepared. “They think we’re all a bit gay,” I said. They asked me how I might overcome this “misconception”. I looked at them, perplexed. Their office is only ten minutes’ walk from Soho, for God’s sake.
They offered me a job in France, which I felt was missing the point slightly.
Patriotism: On the one hand, the Daily Mail; on the other, Marmite and cryptic crosswords. Still, best not to get overexcited. 4 out of 10.