Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Fourth of July from an ExPat in the Land of the Losers

For my sins, I married a Brit. For my most grievous sins, I was condemned to spend the better (or really, the worst) part of my adult life in the land of those who lost the Revolutionary War.

It's a curious incongruity. The British really, really haven't got over the fact that they lost out to a bunch of ragtag colonials, whose descendents they still regard as unsophisticated, uneducated and ignorant. I laugh at that, really. I'm a linguist, educated totally in the United States of America (apart from stints abroad, studying my respective languages); but I work for a British company who employ me because I'm the only damned person here, who can speak to European customers in the vernacular. As for total ignorance, I work with a twenty-one year old who, until last week, didn't know who Angela Merkel was, couldn't construct a grammatical sentence if his life depended on it, and liberally litters his conversations with choice words such as "nigger" and "cunt."

Now tell me who's ignorant, uneducated and unsophisticated.

The English, in particular amongst the four nations which make up Great Britain, suffer the most from not having a national day of celebration. The Scots celebrate St Andrew's Day. The Welsh have St David's Day, and the Catholics in Northern Ireland celebrate St Patrick's Day. April 23 is St George's Day, and George is supposed to be the patron saint of England; however George and the English flag have been appropriated by the British National Party (the fascists) and their offshoot English version of the Tea Party, the English Defence League.

For those of you who don't know, this is the British flag:-

Below is the actual flag of England:-

This is the one the racists and most thug culture in England fly with pride. Consequently, it's taken on the same pejorative aura here that the Confederate flag possesses in the United States.

So the bad guys have appropriated the patron saint's day. There really is nothing else as a substitute. There's Guy Fawkes Day on November 5th, with fireworks and bonfires and such - but that's really sort of a reverse celebration, because it commemorates when Guy Fawkes, a Catholic conspirator, tried to blow up the Houses of Parliament in the early 17th Century. I suppose they're celebrating the fact that he failed, but that particular holiday has its basis in blatant anti-Catholicism, and in a country where not only a recent former Prime Minister (Tony Blair) but also his corresponding Opposition Leader (Iain Duncan Smith) had to keep the fact that they'd both converted to Catholicism secret, and where now Catholics outnumber Anglicans (Episcopalians) by increasing numbers, that's an aspect of Guy Fawkes people want to tamp down. Besides, it's so close to October 31st and American influence has so increased over the years, instead of Guy Fawkes, kids now trick or treat on Hallowe'en, just like their American cousins.

Because the English don't have a special day to celebrate being English, they often latch pathetically onto any sporting triumph or potential triumph they can muster. This summer has been a particularly English-feeling summer. Aside from the cold weather, the rain and the gales, which have subsided for a bit to allow the sun to shine, we started out with the Jubilee ... celebrating the Queen's Sixtieth Anniversary on the throne. (Another peculiarity and why I've never become British: here, one isn't a citizen, but a subject). The British beginning morphed into a very English mid-summer, with the English soccer team playing in the European Championships in Poland and the Ukraine.

Flags flew for two weeks - from cars, from windows, even from flagpoles ... until the Italians knocked Henry V's descendents out of the competition on penalties. Now it's Wimbledon, but many English temporary tennis fanatics are choking on having to muster support for the miserable po-faced Scot, Andy Murray, who makes no secret of his dislike of anything English, except for the money he earns at Wimbledon. However, there are the London Olympics looming on the horizon, even though England is competing as part of Great Britain.

My English husband hates all this. He hates the English flag-waving, the aggression, and the jingoism that erupts every time England have cause to remember their Englishness. I keep saying that it's all because they have no national day of celebration, nothing that's entirely English. They've won no independence from anyone; sure, they overthrew the King back in 1648, but then they subsequently asked his son to come and rule again. They've won world wars, but not without someone else's help (ahem!)

In fact, so desperate are they to celebrate anything on a national basis, several pubs throughout the land are having Fourth of July celebrations, complete with American beer, hamburgers and hot dogs. I guess they're celebrating the fact we left their Empire. Go figure.

The sad fact is that in this day and age here, there's precious little to celebrate. Apart from the austerity culture being imposed by David Cameron (whose wife is a great-granddaughter of Virginia's Nancy Astor), the only other culture dominant here is the cheap celebrity type - bling, reality shows, Simon Cowell, naked aggression, functional illiteracy and just tripe. The BBC's flagship program, Eastenders, is heaviliy promoting a storyline in which a promiscuous slut of a wife of one of it's characters embarks on yet another flagrant affair with a mystery man, and viewers are being asked to guess the identity of the shagger from a list of five character candidates.

Meanwhile on another BBC channel, they're presenting four of Shakespeare's history plays, starting with Richard II ... and nobody's watching.

Happy Fourth from the Land of the Defeated.

1 comment:

  1. Happy Fourth of July, Marion!

    This was quite an interesting read!