I am an Englishman. I am often asked where I come from. Do I come from South Africa, USA, the north of Germany, the Netherlands? I have to laugh. Sometimes I am praised for my English. I always say that I have been learning the language for the last N years, where N is my current age.
But my nationality is not English.
I have never been asked if I am proud of my country, proud to be English. Though I have often experienced that other people are proud of theirs. But something happened three years ago which caused me to think. It took time. First came the question: am I proud of my country? Then the answer: I was. And then the second answer: but not any more. What had happened in these three years?
In the year 2016 a large number of my countrywomen and countrymen were issued with a gun, two bullets and instructions to load the two bullets, aim at one foot, pull the trigger, aim at the other foot and pull the trigger. This caused much pain and other bad stuff.
It was on the TV, on the radio, in the press, in the internet all the time. The people were unhappy, some had been issued with no gun, others with no bullets, some couldn’t load the gun, some had missed their feet or shot out the windows, some had no feet. The worse affected were those who had only shot one foot, they had not received the whole benefit.
But no one spoke from physical pain, it was pain of the second sort, in the mind. Pain of this sort is mostly caused by other people. Pain of the second sort lasts longer, maybe years or decades. Pain of the second sort is worse.
But not just pain, there was arrogance, mendacity, eating of the cake, down-right incompetence and lies. Worse still, Empire 2.0 and the “spirit of the Blitz” and “we’ll muddle through” and “we won the war”.
But Joni Mitchell sang: That you don't know what you've got till it’s gone. Why should I worry that something I didn’t know that I had, that is now gone? Pride in moderation can be a good thing, but that good thing has been replaced with a deep sense of shame and embarrassment.
Something inside me, a part of me that I never understood, a part of me that was positive, has been replaced with negative things that are damnable, debased, debauched, debilitated, deceitful, deceptive, deficient, degenerate, degraded, deluded, demented, deplorable, deranged, despairing, despicable, detestable, detrimental, dire, discordant, dishonest, distasteful, dreadful, dysfunctional and so on.
So what can I do? I’ll make two wishes: that everyone should learn from this Comedy of Errors and that everyone on the British Isles including Ireland should be happier.
Some facts – Great Britain is an island, the largest island in a group of islands off the north-west coast of Europe collectively named the British Isles (archipelago). Most of England, Scotland and Wales are on this island. England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland together are named the United Kingdom.
More facts – The second biggest island is named Ireland. Northern Ireland is not the north-most part of Ireland. Most of the English do not care tuppence for Northern Ireland, the Irish do not care two cents either. The British Empire reached its peak in 1914, long before I was born.