An English Identity

I’ve also lived in Mexico, Bermuda, Argentina, Spain and New Zealand. Right now I’m having a hard time coming to terms with saying goodbye to England and my English friends in the run up to moving to Australia permanently. Mum has sacrificed a life with her parents and siblings in order to be in England with my Dad for forty years. The three of us are now moving to Melbourne to be with her family and I am so incredibly happy for her to finally have all her loved ones in one place.

I know what a wonderful country Australia is and am certain it’s the best future I can have. But on returning to England to help my parents pack up and say goodbye to my childhood friends I am, quite suprisingly, cripplingly saddened. I’m going to miss not only my circle, but I’m also going to miss the English.

When travelling I have experienced the same scenarios as Kristina – of telling people I am from Australia as it’s quicker and easier than explaining that I consider myself to be a global citizen, and also because she’s right, people do love Australians. The same unfortunately can’t be said for the English. Our history, colonisation and brutality has made us many enemies. I have experienced disdain from people for coming from England on several occasions and I understand why.

But I don’t want to apologise for being English. My friends are wonderful, generous, kind, funny souls and I’m immensely protective of them. Look, I’m not saying every one of us is like this, but generally as a people we too wait in line, we call it a queue. We’re polite and apologise profusely, I bumble like Hugh Grant, which in hindsight must be quite irritating. But generally we’re courteous. In our cars we hang back and let people onto the road and we let them change lanes. Do that in some of the cities I’ve visited and they’d assume you’re asleep at the wheel. I love our cultural and musical history and our sense of humour. To hell with it, I’m proud of being English! Politicians and governments of every nation have been corrupt and I can’t take responsibility for the actions of the English examples. All I can do is take responsibility for my own actions, be the best person I can be and hopefully in so doing, change some opinions along the way by showing that we’re not all tyrants 🙂

I recently had the pleasure of going to hear the Dalai Lama talk. He was speaking to a small English town with a huge Nepalese community. He said, “People from Nepal claim Buddha is from Nepal. People from India claim Buddha is from India. It doesn’t matter…” and then he laughed and it was so contagious we all laughed too. Go the big DL, who cares where we’re from.

So my conclusion? I’m very grateful for my upbringing and the opportunities I have been given by coming from England. I’m quirky and eccentric and if it’s because I’m English then brilliant – more of that please. But it may just be because I’m from an eccentric Englishman and an eccentric Australian woman. It sounds sickeningly self-righteous but I’m going to try to judge someone on how they behave rather than where they’re from.

I love my friends and the ease of communicating with people who will get my cultural references. I’ll miss that, but I’ll come back and visit and encourage them to come and visit me in Australia – a country with its own incredible people and culture.