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.”
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!