Monday

Review: Patriotism

Like 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.

15 Comments:

At 6:31 pm, Blogger psuche said...

While experimenting with the 'Next Blog' feature I stumbled across your site.

I love the format and your sense of humo(u)r!

 
At 7:20 pm, Blogger HA HA HA said...

um. er. whos michel howard (er its 'houward' in teh u.k. i gues) an why are tehy moar baritish then he is?

 
At 7:30 pm, Anonymous Donna said...

This is a total generalisation but, in my experience, people in England only ever seem to get patriotic when there's an international sports match on.

What's interesting about this is that this can reveal all sorts of complex national identites beneath the surface. seriously, try asking someone who isn't straightforward England-born-and-bred who they support in the rugby six nations or whatever.

When I asked my boyfriend, he said Ireland because he is Northern Irish, then Scotland because his grandad is Scottish, then England because he lives in England, then Wales.

Of course, I had to ask. If you have all these complex reasons why you support the rest, I said, what about Wales? why Wales?

He shrugged.

Just cos, he said, it's nearby.

Well, I guess that sums the whole thing up, really.

 
At 12:00 pm, Anonymous eskimo said...

congratulations psuche, you have won Visitor of the Month.

ha ha ha: michael howard is the son of a romanian immigrant and leader of the main opposition party, the conservatives, who are currently running for election on a platform of tighter immigration regulations, i.e. keeping people in concentration camps before sending them home to be tortured, which is the kind of behaviour that Made Britain Great. if you like, you can read about him here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Howard

donna: good point. why wales? and, if wales, then why not france (which like wales is nearby and full of people who despise the english)?

 
At 8:55 pm, Blogger psuche said...

I'll bet you say that to all the visitors ;)

 
At 12:21 am, Blogger Maus said...

I think your blog is outstanding :D I've been trying to read bits out to my boyfriend but I've been laughing too much. Thanks!

 
At 2:16 pm, Anonymous Ann said...

Oh I don't know. Italian pop music isn't that bad. And it's not our/their fault that you/we have only heard of Zucchero.

 
At 5:12 pm, Blogger Eskimo said...

who is/are zucchero?

 
At 5:13 pm, Blogger Eskimo said...

maus, unfortunately i have already allocated my Visitor of the Month accolade, but you can have Visitor of the Week if you like.

 
At 9:47 am, Anonymous Lehcar the Lecherous said...

Most of the things that are (ostensibly) good about England (note: England. Not Wales. Not Scotland. They are less similar to England than, well, Senegal. Whatever virtues they may or may not have, Englishness isn't one of them)are things that only a minority of English people actually enjoy or have heard of or have done. Cryptic crosswords, Blackpool, Chaucer, mushy peas, hunting, East End boxing matches.
Topshop, however, is enjoyed, known and 'done' by every single English citizen. But the clothes are probably designed and definitely made elsewhere.

 
At 9:48 am, Anonymous Lehcar the Lecherous said...

Eskimo and Psuche: stop flirting. Do it in your own time.

 
At 5:35 pm, Blogger Eskimo said...

lehcar, we're having a kind of online, blog-hosted sex party, only with compliments instead of sex. enjoy! and be sure to send a thank you note.

 
At 2:44 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The fact I don't mind lousy weather, hectic lifestyle (ie, not having a life) and always loved vinegar migh explain my 7 years so far in London.

Britain is a great country, a bit class obsessed, but even since I was a kid I always wanted to live here, or just leave Spain, not sure...

 
At 10:01 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nothing makes you patriotic faster than a year spent in Australia.

"Yes, I know you think we're crap. That's why you all want to come and develop your careers where I come from, rather than here. Mmm. Gotcha."

I love England with a hitherto unrealised passion.Oz wasn't home, and I missed you.

 
At 3:12 am, Anonymous niceandlucy said...

I love this blog! It makes me chuckle a lot :) I found you through http://www.ilike.org.uk/

oh but I do have to question this comment about 'all of us' Australians allegedly using London as some kind of career development excercise. Now, let's not get too catty... surely you can handle a bit of friendly competition in the workplace over there... Variety has gotta be a good thing.

Personally I am an Australian with no desire to live in the UK again. I recently returned to London (where I grew up) from Melbourne (where I live now), and experienced the opposite effect to you... I have a new love for Australia. I think it relates to general cheerfulness :) and sunshine. x

 

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