Posts Tagged ‘identity’

I’ve been fortunate enough to have travelled quite widely, which means I’ve probably been asked ‘where are you from?’ more often than most people.

On my first few trips, the answer was easy: Scotland (cue discussion about how it was north of England but not in England).

Then version 2 was needed: Scotland, but I live in England (cue discussion about how no, they’re not the same place).

Now, living in Australia, I need a version 3 – but I find myself struggling to work out what it should be.

When I lived in Scotland, I was a proud Scottish Nationalist. Unlike many nationalists at the time, I never had any issue with the English, but I wanted to see an independent Scotland as part of Europe. If Lithuania could do it, why couldn’t we? And Europeans were glamorous and cultured – wouldn’t it be better to be associated with that than the evil Tories ‘down south’?

Then I moved to England, and began to see my home nation in a different light. Great country and great people, for sure, but often insular and narrow-minded too. On trips home the accent sounded ridiculously broad (although I have never lost mine, it has softened, largely because I had to slow down to make myself understood) and the suspicious looks when I told people I lived south of the border began to irritate.

It probably had as much to do with leaving a small town and going to a big city as anything else, but I would spend holidays at home wishing that more people would accept that England was actually quite a nice place; that the English weren’t all Conservatives; and that London was an amazing world city and the fact the politicians who stole our oil lived there shouldn’t detract from that.

Ten years in Lancashire and four in Bristol, combined with the creation of the Scottish Parliament and the disappearance of my home country from the UK news agenda, further widened the gap.

I had the accent, the country dancing skills and the ability to spell learned through a fine Scots education. But I’d crossed a line as well as a border.

Am I proud to be Scottish? Undoubtedly. It’s a small nation that punches above its weight in many ways. It has some of the most beautiful scenery on the planet, some of the most tenacious beasties ever to bite your bum and a dialect that is pure (dead brilliant) poetry. Its people have been responsible for some of civilisation’s greatest achievements in science and the arts.

But the truth is, I’ve been away too long. I don’t feel Scottish any more. I could never consider myself English, and I’m not yet Australian – nor do I think I ever will be, whatever passport I hold.

European is probably as narrow a definition as I am comfortable with; citizen of the world is probably more accurate (but does sound a tad pompous). So with that in mind, I have taken my friend Renee’s advice on whether I should vote or not in the forthcoming UK election – as a citizen of the world, it’s my duty, as UK policy has an impact around the globe.

And perhaps I should relax and stop worrying about where I’m from, knowing I have landed in a country which seems to have as much difficulty defining its identity as I do.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: