Wednesday, May 21, 2014

I'm a Patriot

There are times when I find myself wondering… where would I be right now if I could?  My vivid imagination always takes me to a sunny day in the English countryside. 

My friend, Michael, has told me that he believes I was English in a past life (or lives), and I tend to agree.  When people talk about their passion, I wonder if it’s something as abstract as “England” rather than, say, painting or car racing or sailing.  What *is* passion for a country? 
In my case, it is multi-layered and sometimes complex.  I recently put on a job application that I speak British English as a foreign language.   I was only half kidding.  There are very few topics on England that do not interest me.

There is a term “anglophile” which really feels like “English groupie” to me.  Websters defines it as: a person who is fond of or greatly admires England or Britain.  Neither definition fits me.  “Fond” and “greatly admire” doesn’t go far enough.  “Groupie” goes too far.  I am a patriot.  Both of the U.S. and U.K.  I would imagine myself as an ambassador in a previous life (though Michael said I owned a pub). 

Being passionate about England doesn’t mean I love my country less.  It may, however, mean that because I see England less often, I talk about it more!
I tend to read British newspapers and watch BBC news.  I watch British programming, in general, when I find it.  American programming seems to be more about violence, anger, and frustration.  English programming is more nostalgic.  How can you not love a country that continues to broadcast the arts over its radio stations?  Want to listen to a play?  Want someone to read a book to you?  Want to learn more about the planet?  There’s a show for that.

I love that the English have a soft spot in their hearts for animals, and that they don’t quibble (much) if a dog shows up in a pub.  I love that once an Englishman knows you well, you have a loyal, generous, and faithful friend for the duration.  Some of the kindest people I’ve ever met are English.

The division of the country by so many wars and invasions shows its mark to this day.  You’ll still catch an inkling that the north and south don’t trust each other – much less understand each other’s dialect.  I hear the echo from an old Catherine Tate script that has an upper-class child from the south asking her mother, “Mummy, what’s she saying?” regarding her northern nanny. And the mother replying, “Run for your lives, children, we’re all going to dieeeeeeeeeeee.” 

Hilarious.  And not *altogether* untrue! 

England is a heartbeat.  It’s a warm hug on a cold day.  It’s emerald and beautiful and so interesting that people have written about it for millennia.  There are countries with higher mountains, better economies, better weather (for sure!).  But not with the same spirit, history, and culture.

I’m biased, because, well, I'm a patriot!