Today is St. George’s Day apparently. For those unaware, St.George is the patron saint of England (and a few others too according to Wikipedia) and there are those who celebrate it and are annoyed we don’t have a public holiday for it. The argument goes that if the Irish get St Patrick’s Day as a national holiday, then why don’t we have the same for good old Georgie boy. I wouldn’t have know it was St George’s day if I hadn’t looked at Facebook this morning as is my ritual. I found a picture a friend had posted of the English flag. Yes, the English flag is not the same as the Union Jack. (English flag is white with a red cross, more recently used by the EDL and BNP as a symbol of their “patriotism”). A couple of people mentioned that they were going to wear a red rose but forgot – I had to ask why on earth they would do such a thing as they were not meeting royalty or attending a wedding. I was told that this is the thing you do on St George’s day and again I had to look it up. They were right.
All this culminated in a single thought: am I really as British/English as my passport and birth certificate would have people believe? Both documents state that I was born in England and I have a British passport. I tick British or English on the equal ops forms that I have to fill in occasionally. I have always lived in England but as far as feeling English…I’m starting to wonder. I have multinational blood running in my veins on account of having a non-English parent as well as an English parent. My dad is a Brit of Brits. He was born in Nottingham in the Midlands at the end of WWII. His parents were English (although given my Welsh surname, it is possible that there is a bit of Welsh in his side too). He too has lived in England his entire life. My mum however, she is the foreign influence. Mum was born in Paris to a Swedish mother and a French father. She lived in France until she was 19, had a brief stint in Belgium and then moved to England where she promptly met my dad…and that was that.
Not quite the “French Kiss” dad was hoping for…
My siblings and I were brought up by this European mix and while we have all lived and remain living in England, there is something decidedly un-English about us all. It isn’t just that my two brothers are about as Swedish looking as its possible to be (very very blonde, ice blue eyes and alabaster skin and tall to boot). It isn’t that my sister looks remarkably like our cousin who could be the sister of our Swedish second cousin’s son (it gets complicated). It isn’t that I remember speaking French from a very early age or that I dream in French some nights. I think it is that we were not raised “English”. I have traits that people find very odd. I dip any sort of breakfast pastry or toast crust into my tea or coffee – I did this in a hotel in Scotland in front of my colleagues without thinking and I was frowned at…apparently it isn’t the done thing. I have linen napkins and use them no matter what or where we eat, even if its pizza on the sofa while watching a film. I prefer tablecloths to place mats, even if it just cereal for breakfast. And I talk with my whole body, not just my mouth. I find it very difficult to have a conversation without using my hands to emphasise my point, or touch the person I’m talking to (in a non weird/threatening/personal space invasive way) and I get very emotional and passionate about a lot of things – some that don’t require that much passion.
I’m not sure if my siblings have all my behaviour traits (although I do know they all share the napkin thing). We also share some of the “body talking” mainly with our hands. What I do know is that while some people want England to be “English” and they want a day off for St George…I’ll throw my hands up in ScandiGallic passion and continue dunking my toast in my very English tea.
Vive la difference!