The British Identity

Punks sun-bathing in front of a London pub

On my recent visit to the UK, the first impression i got of the Britons (or maybe the English – more on this later) was this: they’re quite efficient at what they do. I was on a flight from Paris to London, and as far as i can remember, it was the quickest cabin-door-closed-to-take-off i have ever experienced. This is the down-to-earth, disciplined and no-nonsense side of the Britons that i so admire.

Upon landing in London, on the bus that took us into the city centre, an old-folk was trying to communicate with the bus driver, speaking in his native language (presumably Italian). The bus-driver shouted back in an unfriendly tone, “Speak English! I don’t understand what you’re saying”. I guess this was the serious and maybe a little snobbish side of the Britons that is perhaps not so pleasant.

The British Identity is an interesting subject matter to consider. For a start, most people outside of the UK do not know that English is not the same as British. It took hundreds of years for Wales, England, Scotland and Northern Ireland to be joined together to become the United Kingdom as we know it today, yet today they remain as fragmented as ever. I had the privilege of sitting in on a session in the Parliament of Scotland (yes, amazingly they allow visitors in!), and the speaker was advocating more power for the local authorities and criticizing the central government.

DSC_0090 The Parliament of Scotland

It is no mean feat for the British Empire to have been the largest empire in history. Today, however, not only has the empire come to an end, UK is heavily in debt. On top of that, UK faces an identity crisis, which could be getting more confused as the immigrant population grows. What’s interesting though, is that probably a substantial proportion of the immigrants try harder to assert their identity as being English than the English themselves.

It’s fascinating to visit the UK just to experience ‘Englishness’. And don’t miss out on the chance to catch Broadway Shows – they’re lovely!

DSC_0182 Phantom of the Opera stage

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