If you’ve been visiting this site for some time you’ll know that it began some 12 years ago, coinciding with my emigration to the republic of France. The domain I chose to publish upon (englishmaninstrasbourg.com) took a great deal of reflection at the time. After all, presenting myself as English, as opposed to British, might have suggested that I was a bit of a closet nationalist.
However, the nothing could be further from the truth. At that time, I was disappointed see how the policy of devolution in the UK had dismembered the national identity. As I often pointed out, to those who defended the creation of the Scottish and Welsh devolved governments on the basis of distinct cultural and linguistic lines, in what way is someone from Cornwall like someone from Tyneside? Should Newcastle and Penzance not become the seats of local government too? I was all for devolution, but not along coveted nationalistic boundaries. For, as we have seen, this has simply strengthened the idea of nations within our nation and raised the spectre of racial purity from its long-forgotten grave.
Cornwall was effectively cut off from the rest of the country until the arrival of the trains two hundred years ago. It has its own language and culture yet no-one there is braying for devolution nor independence from the Kingdom. And rightly so, for what benefit does severing ties with your neighbours really bring? No one has yet to produce an argument that isn’t based on the distrust of others.
I am half Scottish by birth, 100% British by upbringing and “White European” in racial terms. One result of devolution however was suddenly having to think of myself as English in the eyes of my fellow countrymen. Identifying yourself as being British had become synonymous with being an imperialist warmonger, it was not an option. As a rugby fan, before devolution, I had randomly supported the exploits of the Scottish, Welsh, Irish and English teams throughout the Six Nations. But I was British no longer. I had to choose.
I therefore became an Englishman, not through pride or patriotism but necessity.
Today, I look at the title of this blog an wonder whether it isn’t time for change? The little pride I had in being British was all but eradicated with Brexit and with the English primarily being responsible for the result, any affinity I had for my default national identity has rapidly dissipated. Notwithstanding the fact that the Tory government’s mishandling of the post referendum situation has lead me to take French nationality too!
For, I am now as French as I am English (much to the chagrin of certain members down at the rugby club.)
What does this now make me? An Anglo-Frank in Strasbourg? A Frenglishman in Strasbourg? A Brexpat in… perhaps it matters not.
Nations are defined as where political administrations begin and end. They are invisible barriers, conceptual limits, that require nothing more than locomotion to cross. The language(s) you speak or the side you stand of a border should not wholly define who you are.
I am a citizen of the World – what more does anyone really need to know?