On Being British
Last summer, I obtained my British citizenship. While I was relieved to have it finally done and over with, I wasn’t terribly excited by it. I wasn’t getting to put it to use; there haven’t been any elections since then, for example. But this weekend? This weekend is my first chance to properly celebrate being a Brit, and I am quite pleased to.
You see, this is the Diamond Jubilee bank holiday weekend. This weekend, we celebrate sixty years of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign over the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth. Being an American by birth (a citizenship I still retain), I have been enamoured of the monarchy since I was a wee little child. I think most American children do – it’s sort of a romantic notion, being a part of a royal family. And while the role is mainly ceremonial to the running of the country, I still think that the Queen is good value for money. She’s just… the royal personage does a good job of demonstrating what noblesse oblige should be, of being a noble symbol for a proud country with a long history and worthy heritage. But as said, my opinions were formed in childhood (to include the bog standard demonization of Prince Charles as unworthy), and I’ve not felt the need to question them in adulthood. Me likey monarchy, bring on the coronation chicken, etc.
It will also be nice to finally be doing something that reminds me that I am legit British now. It was something I never imagined in my life, not even when I was enjoying the crap out of British comedy shows on public access. I thought that I might try for French citizenship upon my successful attainment of the language in high school (since fallen to nearly nothing via disuse), but that was before I realized the existence of the Eurozone for living and working, and really – I didn’t take that dream seriously. It seemed unlikely at best (knowing what hoops one has to jump through to attain citizenship in another country), and completely improbable at worst. The marriage route is definitely the fastest non-heritage route to citizenship, but I’m not one to exploit a system. I would have never thought to try to marry someone just to move to another place. Bad juju, yanno?
So then, what DOES it mean to me to be British? It means being part of a culture that is less afraid about questioning and mocking itself than the American culture. I know how different this gulf is based on ‘friends’ in America calling me a traitor or threatening to be the ever-loving shit out of me for applying the same approach towards improving America (which I always have done, but because I shut my mouth on my opinions during my military time, people thought I didn’t have opinions!). It means having a much better understanding of sarcasm, and being able to take a bit more on the chin. It means quizcoms and BBC Parliament and cackling along at the witty riposte that both contain. It means having health care that actually works; it’s not perfect, but my life is massively enhanced by the NHS. It’s a far from perfect place, mind – there’s a redonk number of security cameras, this country coined the phrase ‘nanny state’, and there is an unhealthy obsession with celebrity bordering on the insane. There’s casual racism (which is hit or miss; I think it’s generally less offensive than being overly PC), there’s a frightening amount of entitlement, and the government seems to love chasing the worst policies coming out of the United States. But that’s okay, insomuch that I can say that without getting threatened with death or assault for having an opinion (which, I suspect, is often meant as ‘sarcasm’ coming from Americans, but as they absolutely do.not.get sarcasm…).
So long and short – I am happy to be here. I am happy to be a citizen. This isn’t a knock on America, which has its awesome points as well (which will be taught to my child(ren) along with the good and bad of British as they grow up). All in all, I am glad to be of both, but will definitely enjoy celebrating the newest this weekend.
On Being British — No Comments