Quote. “When I first started travelling, it took me a while to realise that not everybody wanted to be American. They were quite happy being French, British, Indian or whatever”
Yesterday the Scottish National Party launched their campaign to persuade the Scottish people to vote “yes” to Scottish Independence in the upcoming referendum on 18th September 2014.
I have no objection to the Scots becoming a separate country if they want, it’s a bit like letting an adult child lave home! but I would be sad to see the Scots leave the United Kingdom, not least of all because of all the trouble it caused with of Elizabeth 1st, Mary Queen of Scots and James etc , but because, like my friend above, I thought everybody in the British Isles wanted to be British, but it seems just like northerners, not everybody wants to be lumped together with those people from London.
…and also the British flag does not look quite the same without the blue!!!
It got me to thinking that I quite like being English, or rather British, ……because the English think of “English” as an all encompassing term, as if the Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish were just another region instead of separate countries.
For a while, after my frequent trips to Paris , I wanted to be French, but after a period when I learned to tie scarves, wear black and do that Gallic shrug thing, I stayed for five weeks in Paris and realised that actually I just wanted to visit Paris and not live there because I actually like being this bluey/white, slightly eccentric, polite , reserved English person.
I also got to thinking of all the other things I like about being English..
I know how to queue
I know how NOT to complain.
I now how to publicly keep my enthusiasm under wraps, (except for football!….soccer)
I know how to keep myself to myself.
I know how to keep calm and carry on… unlike other nationalities, who have hysterics if things are just not right!
I love our green countryside.
I love having “tea”
I like driving on the “right ” side of the road, which is actually the left.
I like our NHS. Where, even with it’s shortcomings, you have the security of knowing if you are ill you will be treated.
I like the way our political system does not depend on how much money you have to be elected.
I like British tolerance of diverse, cultures, classes and religions and the fact that because (in the main) we accept other people differences, we never feel the need to change ourselves to “blend in”.
.. and *I like the fact that what we cannot stand is other people not being tolerant.
I LOVE the way we do ceremony. At the last Royal wedding I was so proud of the organisation,and crowd control. Having attended lots of different ceremonials in different countries, including 4th July and Fetes Nationals. I realised that nobody does it like the British, …. but then we have had centuries of practise, with all those, Royal weddings, coronations, investitures, Jubilees etc.
( I also like the Queen, who stops any egomaniac from having power)
I even like the fact that our weather is different from day to day and is the subject every British person can talk about instantly and ad infinitum!
Of course, it is not quite the done thing for the British to be too publicly patriotic. When I was in America last year, I was shocked to see all the Stars and Stripes flags hoisted on most houses and buildings, for in the UK there is an old joke that is is OK to hoist a flag during the 2-3 days of an international football competition, but ….
3 days is national pride, 4 days is National front! ( facist political party)
Still there are also things I admire about other nationalities.
I love how Americans can strike up a conversation with anybody and get thier life story within minutes.
I love how the French are in the main SO chic, and proud of their Frenchness, with all that history… and not really bothered what other folks think.
I admire how Scandinavians can speak such perfect English as well as their own language .
I love how the Italians are so family and children oriented and passionate..
So I really hope the Scots people say “no” to independence and stay with us because I also like how friendly the Scots are.
…and if the Scots get independence, just think that so will the Welsh and Northern Irish.
The irony that all those years of violent troubles could have been solved with a simple referendum!
Vive la difference!
Ironically a year ago, I was in Glasgow, remarking that Scotland was like another country.
Denise, I loved reading the PlaneJane quotation and the reasons why you’re happy to be British. As for me, I like being some strange mixture of American/Swiss/world citizen. There are times when I feel completely alienated from my countrymen and others when I feel a real sense of unity. I guess that’s to be expected after spending the majority of my life outside the USA.
I also like how friendly the Scottish people are but hope that they say “yes” to independence. Since I don’t know all of the issues at stake, this sentiment is based purely on conversations that I’ve had with Scottish people over the years. We used to visit Scotland on a regular basis while Sara was at the University of Edinburgh and I was always struck by how much the Scots dislike the English (sorry!). At least that’s what they said whenever the subject of their independence made its way into the conversation.
I’ll be following the Scottish National Party’s plans with interest. If they do vote to become independent, will it happen overnight or gradually?
Hi Mary Kay. It’s interesting to read your feelings about being, ex pat, multinational. In your heart of hearts, do you feel you are American or Swiss? When do you feel you “come home?”
I don’t think the Scots dislike the English as individuals, ( well I have always found them very friendly with me personally) I just don’t think they like being lumped together as “British” in a political sense, be subject to laws from London, .or really not recognised a separate nation with their own identity. I can identify with that, because I don’t like being lumped together with Southerners or even worse Londoners because our cultures are very different.
I find it amusing when foreigners talk to me about London as if I know it, or assume I travel to Paris by Eurostar. London is as foreign to me as Paris and I really dislike how the news is always so Londoncentric. ……if they have two inches of snow in London it is headlines, but if we are paralysed by six foot snow drifts, it’s hardly worth a mention!…… currently the media keep talking about the “housing boom”….well as I am i the market, I can tell you that there is NO housing boom in Bolton, in fact prices are falling!………maybe I should start a campaign for Lancashire independence! LOL!
As to the question when will Scotland become independent? if there is a “yes ” vote. they will become a separate country on 24th March 2016. Nobody really knows what the implications will be. The SNP of course can only list the “alleged” benefits., which seems more like a wish list than concrete policy. They don’t seem to have concrete answers on what will happen to pensions, benefits, NHS, and other public advantages of being British.
The only concrete promise they can make is they will get rid of Trident, the British nuclear deterrent. But them they don’t know if they will belong to NATO, or the European union and how they will defend them selves?. Will they have an army?
It will be interesting what comes up when the “No” campaign starts.
Surprisingly, other than the SNP politicians, I have only met ONE Scottish person who would vote yes so far. Even last year when I was in Glasgow, the individuals I asked had not been persuaded that the benefits of independence outweighed the disadvantages. … people don’t like change, especially into the unknown.
Scotland had it’s own parliament and laws since 1999. and I did remark last year that It seemed like a different country when I visited. The Scottish pound is different, the language is different and I was really miffed to discover that my BRITISH, senior bus pass was not accepted on Scottish buses!
Anyway, good luck to them, we English, Welsh and Northern Irish don’t have a vote in the matter, so it will be interesting to see how the campaign develops.
I too hope the Scots don’t leave the Union. Although Andy Murray seems pretty set on it. British history is so complicated anyway–you’ve lost the Empire, hong Kong, canada, Australia, etc– the commonwealth seems less a thing.
Hi Joseph. You are right, we no longer have an Empire, and I bet most young people are no longer aware of that Imperialistic mentality that we were brought up with at Primary school, , thank goodness. Few people would stand for “God save the Queen”.
When we visited Scotland in 1987 and 1988 I was very surprised at how friendly the Scots were, several of them telling us how much they like France because it used to be England’s historical enemy, and they usually mentionned Bonnie Prince Charlie too … Now I’m not sure whether independance would be such a good idea for them, especially since the E.U. made it clear that independant Scotland would NOT automatically belong to the E.U., they would have to apply for membership and that could take many years, and so in the meantime they will be quite isolated, especially on an economic point of view. But I guess that some of them still feel “colonized” in a way, despite all the autonomy that they have gained latel.
And yes you are soooo English 🙂 !
LOL! Anne!….I actually don’t think of myself as being the stereotypical English person, as thought of abroad, because I am NOERTHERN, so I am glad you said that.
The trouble is the policies set out by the SNP are so “maybe” because until they get the yes vote they can’t negotiate anything like the EU membership and pensions, NHS, defence etc….and at present the Westminster government wont discuss this favourably because they have said they are against Scotland leaving the union.
Hi Denise…the Scots problem is very similiar to our Quebec problem…they wanted to separate too….they have all sorts of special laws to keep them feeling different..of course the use of the french language is the most obvious..but Canada would be a much duller place without them and the UK wouldn’t be the same without Scotland either…(I’m one quarter scot)
take care, keep warm
Hi Debbie, I had no idea about the Quebecois, if that’s the right word. At least the Scots are being given a referendum, so the matter can be decided by peaceful means.
that is the correct word and they had their referendum too…and lost by the narrowist of margins….so part of Canada they stayed.
I am a Canadian is pretty much like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BRI-A3vakVg (-:
Hi Conrad, as I said in previous answer, I had no idea that Canada also had this issue. I am sure they will watch with interest.
..and I am sure the Canadians get fed up abroad being mistaken for Americans!
Love being English first , British second. I hope everybody in Scotland who votes for independence, reads the 600 odd page document first (the small print), before making up their minds, instead of being blinded by the obvious bedroom tax stuff that may sway them. Time will tell. Beware of stealth taxes Scotland.
Welcome to my blog Andy….not THE Andy (Murray) as you say you are English! Joseph would be apoplectic! LOL!
I also think of myself as 1. Northern, 2. English, 3 British. Actually it was not until I started travelling that I REALLY thought of myself as British because that is how foreigners refer to me.
Good luck to the Scots if they really want to go independent I’d be happy for them, but I agree with you they need to consider the price they will have to pay and read the small print.
Cheers Denise! Yes good luck to them, I visit Scotland several times a year, so I shall be winding up the Jock family about this issue. Loads of mileage in this topic…
I’m English first, Kiwi second (or is it the other way round?). I love going to London and recently had a rush of blood to the head thinking I’d like to live there for part of the year (English summer, NZ winter, obvs), but like you with Paris, realised visiting is probably enough. What I definitely am is NORTHERN. Here’s an ironic piece (at least I hope it is, ha ha) which I think you might like. http://www.newstatesman.com/lifestyle2013/11/how-write-about-north
Sorry, that should read http://www.newstatesman.com/lifestyle/2013/11/how-write-about-north
Ah Bossy a kindred spirit! nobody quite understands unless they were born here. (I am sure Gwan is rolling her eyes!)…….great article.
I saw a documentary a couple of years ago where they interviewed people about the North South divide. In the main Southerners had no idea that there WAS a divide and thought of Northerners as English, or British just like them. The north south divide was only in the minds of the Northerners they interviewed.
Maybe it is like that for Scotland. As Brits we just think of them all as one nation, it’s a bit of a colonial attitude!… whereas the Scots (and Welsh and Northern Irish) all have their own identities just like us Northerners..
I have noticed that since the BBC relocated to Salford media reporting HAS changed slightly. It is as if they have suddenly become aware that “hey, there is a world outside London”.!
You are so right Denise – the South the ‘norm’, the North ‘Other’ – so the South don’t even realise! (Like the way some men don’t know what women are going on about wanting equality when they so obviously have it already.) It’s so good that the BBC is in Salford isn’t it – and I hope lots of other institutions migrate north, too ! (You wouldn’t think I haven’t lived in Lancashire for more than 40 years to hear me go on, would you, ha ha!) Bossy x
I’ll also be watching the Scots do. It’s an interesting process to witness. I don’t envy them, though – it sounds like a year long political campaign they’ll be listening to.
Not quite the same, but the question of Australia becoming a republic is always on the backburner here. There was a failed referendum vote in 1999 but I don’t really count that as the questions being asked were not straight-forward. I doubt this will become an issue in again in my lifetime even though for us to “separate” from the UK has many fewer strings than Scotland doing so.
We are not a flag flying nation like the US either and I also noticed the large number of flags when I travelled there the first time. I’ve got no strong opinion about flags flying but it does irritate me when I see flags that are mere strips flapping in the wind. Businesses put them up then never bother to change them when they have become damaged. And don’t even get me started about people wearing flags during patriotic events. When I see them wrapped around a person’s neck and being dragged along in the dust, I think it’s more of an insult than anything. Quite bizarre really as I find myself feeling less ‘Australian’ than ever.
Hi Mez. Well it is gong to be a long 10 months and I am sure the Scottish people will be fed up of the various campaigns by then…. Already I am switching over the news as I don’t have a vote and really don’t have a strong view one way or the other, so I am loosing interest.
British Nationalism is not really politically correct here, .. ( an ironic turnaround from the Empire days ) … obviously there are those with right wing views, who are seen as extremist and those parties have hijacked both the English flag and the Union Jack so too much nationalism is seen as Fascist and racist. Patriotism is only really acceptable at sporting events and Royal celebrations! This is why I was so shocked to see flags flying in the US!.
So I am of the personal opinion that overt Patriotism or nationalism, ( as with religious superiority) is dangerous and just leads to wars and conflicts, An attitude that your culture, religion or nationality is superior to others has led to nations trying to impose their norms on others, as they see themselves as “better” or more “civilised” .
Nobody is “better”, they are just “different “and every society or ideology has it’s faults and benefits…….. …so called “democracy” is not without it’s corruption, greed and inequalities.
Thanks for your comment.
Goodness this post has generated a lot of comment, which is a surprise. I didn’t think the rest of the world was that interested!
Hear hear! (Sorry to have so much to say on your post.) It is like that in NZ (which may be one of the reasons I feel so at home here) so I was pretty shocked to see NZ flags in house windows and gardens during the Rugby World Cup a few years ago. It was a relief when they all disappeared afterwards!
I loved the flag quote, so true! Last I heard, the yes vote didn’t have a majority. I’m more worried about the UK (with or without Scotland) leaving the EU one day, for obvious selfish reasons!
Well Gwan I think you can rest assured that the Uk won’t leave the EU for a while, it is difficult enough to get the public to vote for MP’s let alone a referendum on such a complicated issue. ….but if the Scots get independence it may limit your right to work in Scotland (if you so wanted!) because although they say they want to be part of the EU but The EU are saying it might not be as simple as that.
Fascinating debate on Question time last night ( a very popular BBC programme which travels around the country, with a changing panel of politicians and celebrities and a studio audience)
This week it was from Scotland and the Scots were asking questions about currency amongst other things. . The SNP woman was saying that they would keep the pound and be partnered with the Bank of England. How is that independent? They would be subject to English interest rates, Lending and all sorts of other controls that the Bank of England influences.
As I say…. not really though through!
If the vote for independence is yes then the Scots may well not be able to watch BBC programmes such as Question Time as Scotland will no longer be part of the British Broadcasting Corporation. As it stands at the moment the Scots will stop paying the TV licence fee and the Scottish government will have to negotiate and pay for BBC programmes. Residents may be able to watch BBC on freeview but only if the government arranges this. At least I think that is what the guy on BBC Breakfast was saying this morning! It seems that a lot of things taken for granted at present will be quite complicated!
I agree. The implications do not seem to have been thought through because they will need negotiation. The S NP seems to assume va lot. The other thingvis. If they get rid of Trident. ( which i don’t think isxa bad thing) I don’t think the British government will be pleased. How will they defend themselves?
A very succinct phrase “3 days is national pride, 4 days is National front!” but I agree with it. I view houses with flags hanging up with suspicion. I think Americans doing their flag waving, and their allegiance to the flag, and national anthem at every opportunity as a bit cult-like. Surely it becomes meaningless if it’s something you do all the time, and just do because everyone else is.
Hi Fm thanks for your observations.
John Lennon put it very succinctly.
“…….Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace…
You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one”……
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