Saturday, 24 January 2009

Don't Call Me English

I continue my fight to be British, something that is increasingly hard to be here in London. There are so many "colonials" here who, not knowing any better, seem to feel it's okay to call me "English" (plus of course most of the English folk too which is about 90% of the population even those of ethnic minority origins which really makes me laugh). Well it's not and I'm pretty quick to educate them in the subtle differences.

The biggest of course is about being patriotic. Self-confessed English people are, in my opinion, being traitorous towards Her Britannic Majesty. If the United Kingdom is one country under Queen Elizabeth II then that is good enough for me to consider myself British. Anything else is secessionist rebellion against the monarchy and as self confessed royalist I'll have nothing to do with that thank you very much.

What connects British people? A shared ruler, a shared political structure (being eroded now by devolution, alas) and a shared military. Not culture, which is what some English folk protest connects them. People seem to think being English means you share an exclusive culture with all the other folk who live in "England" as opposed to the cultures of the Scots or Welsh. This of course is a ludicrous delusion. I no more share my culture with someone from Yorkshire than I do with someone from northern France. I suspect I'd probably understand the French person better too (my French is rudimentary but better than my Tyke). If that is not the case, if they really don't think culture connects them then being English is quite pointless as there is no other sane reason for considering yourself English than as part of one nationality and culture. Thus Englishness is a defunct concept.

The most important point for me though is aspirational. Britishness is a concept open to interpretation, free of the thousands of years of history of any other and formed only over the last couple of hundred years. The concept of Britishness, to me anyway, is one of being unobtrusively patriotic (no American gushing over the flag, more a silent respect), of being polite to others, of being thoughtful and of keeping ones emotions in check as much as possible. The good old British stiff upper lip as it were. Sure it's impossible for any human to constantly maintain such a holier than thou demeanour. But it can't hurt to try.

Englishness seems more in line with ideas of Anglo-Saxon bravado and a certain lack of class in everyday interactions. Of thoughtlessness and of arrogance. The St Georges flag seems to me to represent everything that I hate in this country.

This story from the Titanic empathises everything I consider important about being British. In everything I do I aspire to meet the Captain's demand of "Be British, boys, be British."

I just wish more people did the same.

So feel free to call yourself English and lay claim to the violence and destruction of the Anglo Saxons. I prefer to believe in looking forward, of believing in unity against sedition or progress over longing for an imaginary past. So don't call me English and don't call this country England. Until the nationalists (and of course the disinterested masses) win, it remains the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Long may it remain so.

P.S. Why do Americans call the country England? Even at the time of the Revolution it was the Kingdom of Great Britain. Grr...

Rant Ends

Further Reading

The How to be British Collection (US Amazon)

The English Nation: The Great Myth (US Amazon)

32 comments:

wonkotsane said...

So feel free to call yourself English and lay claim to the violence and destruction of the Anglo Saxons
I will, thanks. My country right or wrong.

You feel free to call yourself British and lay claim to the violence and destruction of the British - the British Nationalist Party, the slave trade, the violent conquest of half the worlds population. Wrap yourself up in your British flag known by the "colonials" as the Butchers Apron. You're in an ever shrinking minority of British nationalists.

Jae said...

Again missing the whole point. Britishness does not require one to look at history, and thus the sins of the past are not inherent to it's creed unlike Englishness which has a historical basis. The British empire, whilst having some positive influences, is not something I look back on with any sort of nostalgia given it's inherent wrongness.

The British Nationalist Party is a racist, Christian party who aren't exactly representative of anyone in this country. You might as well say all Germans were Nazis. Ludicrous. English is term of nationality based on where you were born, whereas Britishness is based on your citizenship. Which is more inherently racist??

And the slave trade started under England and finished under Britain. Hmm...

I'm not a British Nationalist. I'm a unionist. I'm in favour of future peaceful integration with other countries, as we grow and progress as human beings rather than fighting over stupid borders and nationalities. That is quite a big difference.

Anonymous said...

LOL Obviously never heard of the British Empire - that's British, dearie. That included Scots, Welsh and Irish! Educate yourself, you idiot.

All those born in England are English and have a right to call themselves such, whatever colour we are and I'd be proud to stand alongside Englishmen and women of any hue if they called themselves English.

What a knob you are. Please remain British. England doesn't want tossers like you around.

wonkotsane said...

You don't have to be born in England to be English nay more than to be born British - have you never heard of civic identity and nationalism?

You might like to do your research before coming out with claptrap like this. You could start with researching the slave trade in the Caribbean which was mostly down to the Scots. And it was, of course, and Englishman that got the slave trade banned and convinced Parliament that the Royal Navy should be charged with freeing slaves anywhere in the world.

I'm English both because it's the country I was born in and because that's the civic identity I have.

wildgoose said...

You claim that your rudimentary French enables you to better understand a Frenchman than you would understand a Yorkshireman speaking, and also that you "no more share [your] culture with someone from Yorkshire than [you] do with someone from Northern France".

Wow. Speaking as a "Tyke" it seems to me that you have a really inclusive sense of Britishness then. And as you probably wouldn't understand that comment, (me being a Yorkshireman), that was meant to be sarcastic.

All I can say, is that with "British" people like you around I am glad that I am English.

Anonymous said...

How do can the English "share" a culture which excludes?

No mention of what the Scots and Welsh think, whether THEY regard themselves as solely British, whether THEY think THEY share "an exclusive culture with all the other folk who live in Scotland and Wales"!

Another Brit singling out the English to criticise!


.

Hotspur said...

"Self-confessed English people are, in my opinion, being traitorous towards Her Britannic Majesty".
Your Majesty recently gave Royal Assent to the Lisbon Treaty with the full knowledge that a referendum had been promised.Your Majesty will have also been aware that a referendum would have brought a NO vote.So, it seems this loyalty businness is a one way street.

"If the United Kingdom is one country under Queen Elizabeth II then that is good enough for me to consider myself British".
The united kingdom never was one country, ask the welsh scots and irish.
If you care to look at my link you will find that not many agree with you. There is over 1500 letters to the press from Ebglish people about our non position in the uk.
Being an expert at this, I estimate there will be at least another 1500 I never found and probly the same again that were never published online.So really what you think is irrelevent.

britologywatch said...

It seems that the only people who are more anglophobic than the (British?) Scots are the English: the neo-Brit nat ones like you, that is. Only an Englishman could think and write like you. You're an illustration of the split that has taken place in the English-British identity. There used to be no sense of contradiction between Englishness and Britishness, and the typically 'British' characteristics you describe could just as easily be called typically English - which is probably why the Yanks call us English.

The trouble is the tide of history is against you. You say, "don't call me English and don't call this country England". But presumably, by 'this country' you actually do mean England, because no one is trying to call Scotland, Wales or N. Ireland 'England'. So you can only be talking about England. England is England: country and nation. Politically, it's still the UK, if we're going to be pedantic, not 'Britain' - whatever that is. Increasingly, more of an idea and a historical relic than a reality, which is ironically what you think England is. But what are we going to call the country that is England when Scotland finally secedes, or when it's granted so many devolved powers that the sleeping 'British' masses (which you think are English) realise that the only part of the UK that is denied democratic self-government is England? Perhaps people will wake up to the fact that by denying them their Englishness, the UK government has been denying them their rights.

Enjoy your Britain while it lasts - it's on the way out.

phoenix said...

So you are not English. OK pack your bags because we are reclaiming our country.
Love it or leave it.

Tommy 3 Lions said...

The geezer whom wrote this realy has no understanding of British history and who he is where he is from etc, probably from an upper class background out of touch with the man on the street and unable to identify with the concerns of the real class that did all the donkey work in building a nation which I am proud to be a son of. as for the violence of the Anglo Saxons The Wonk has said enough on that further above but may I remind him of the violence of the Scot/Pict/Irish/Welsh too very few nations have been formed without conquest and violence. i could talk of th ebrutality of the Scotch in Durham/northumberland too. I am Englisc.

Wyrdtimes said...

That post is unmitigated cockwaffle.

Anonymous said...

I think that this is a young lad who has to get his English history homework in by Monday.
I hope we have been of some help.
England is older than Great Britain.

Anonymous said...

"Englishness seems more in line with ideas of Anglo-Saxon bravado and a certain lack of class in everyday interactions. Of thoughtlessness and of arrogance -"

So,a typical anti English diatribe complete with the usual British classist sneer at the English. I notice you don't sneer at the Welsh, Scots etc. They are always conspicuously more precious to you Brits than we English.

For your information, idiot, it is the Queen who should be showing more loyalty the English not the other way around. The Queen was crowned Queen of Great Britain as have all the monarchs since Queen anne who was the last Queen of England per se. The English were never consulted in that momemtous change of title any more than they are now with regards to their own government and constitution.

Nice of you to enunciate so clearly how you British feel about 85% of the population of what is still caled the United Kingdom.
Useful for future reference.

Jae said...

Thanks guys for taking the time to comment. As you may have noticed this was labelled as a rant, and so I did take some... liberties. But please do try to be polite. Feel free to mock my arguments and make fun of us Brits but personal attacks are quite unwarranted and unbecoming. Plus they are unlikely to win you any converts to your cause. Play nice.

And the reason I don't mention the Scots and Welsh? Because I don't have time. The racist attacks against those sporting English flags in Scotland speek volumes on the sort of folk who vote SNP.

And LOL @ those who think I'm upper class. A boy from a council estate in north Kent born to a teenage mother does not upper class make.

wonkotsane said...

"Us Brits"? 14 comments and you're the only one calling yourself a Brit! Everyone else here has called themselves English.

Jae said...

Yes, I don't argue otherwise. I simply meant feel free to insult Brits in the sense of those in the general population, within whose number I count myself.

And the significance of the fact that all those posting here represent an English point of view is simply that several sites who represent that view have linked here. It's hardly a fair sample of the general population, although certainly I believe you guys represent the majority opinion.

Anonymous said...

Self-confessed English people are, in my opinion, being traitorous towards Her Britannic Majesty. If the United Kingdom is one country under Queen Elizabeth II then that is good enough for me to consider myself British. Anything else is secessionist rebellion against the monarchy and as self confessed royalist I'll have nothing to do with that thank you very much.

There was an English ethnicity before there was an English political entity. Do you realise that? The British thing is young. However, the English are very old.
We are ancient mate. We existed way before the British empire. There is no British language. There is no British ethnicity. There is no British race. Britain is a political construction that's all. Englishness goes far deeper than any British identity. Englishness is in us, it is part of us. We woke up, you need to!

Tommy 3 Lions said...

Jae mate.
A council estate in Kent is upper class compared to a council estate in Durham. When was the last time you had coal for breakfast?
mate you must realise that all the points raised are valid and that Britain is on its deathbed, it may not even exist by the time we host the unwanted olympics. There is no treatment, no medication which is going to heal the union.

Anonymous said...

'I no more share my culture with someone from Yorkshire than I do with someone from northern France.'

Well this might be true if the EU has its way but until then I assume you live under English common law (different in Scotland), the UK Parliament (now different in Scotland and Wales for devolved issues) and which always has been completely English in form and ceremony, you speak the English language, you were born in the country called England that has existed since at least 850AD and is only hidden behind the political construct of 'Britain'.

I have to say I just don't understand 'Brits' like you. The very word 'Brit' makes me heave. You are free to call yourself what you like but you are obviously English whether you like it or not.

I think Britology is right. Only here in this stupid country could someone like you exist.

All those 'British' characteristics you cite ARE ENGLISH. FGS!

Dvorak said...

Greetings!

As a British citizen, you of course have every right to consider yourself to be British. However, I am an Englishman and I will refer to this country as England.

I found your comment on the "destructive" Anglo-Saxons to be somewhat silly. The Anglo-Saxons were no more destructive than any other peoples of the dark ages. The Anglo-Saxon civilisation was very advanced for its time. Just as a side note, Your ever so lovely Britannic Majesty is a direct descendent of William the Conqueror - A despicable man that was responsible for the deaths of one third of Englands Anglo - Saxon population. His campaigns in the north of the country (your neck of the woods) was particularly brutal.

I also found the notion that self aware English people to be traitors to be... well damn right ridiculous. To propose that we should all be loyal subjects to her majesty, and that any opposing view is traitorous, is not only rather arrogant (something you accuse us English of) but somewhat err... backward looking!! Are you sure you are not an Englishman old boy?

Finally, do you even consider yourself to be a Northerner? You see, I would assume that to consider yourself a northerner, you would have to consider yourself to be from the north of the country... As England (according to you) does not exist, I assume you feel more comfortable with the term "Midlander"...

All the best

wonkotsane said...

Finally, do you even consider yourself to be a Northerner? You see, I would assume that to consider yourself a northerner, you would have to consider yourself to be from the north of the country... As England (according to you) does not exist, I assume you feel more comfortable with the term "Midlander"...
Good call!

wonkotsane said...

And the significance of the fact that all those posting here represent an English point of view is simply that several sites who represent that view have linked here
According to Google and wholinkstome, no sites link to this post.

Anonymous said...

If that's the case does being "British" mean you have some connection with Scotland and Wales instead? If so, why the fuck do you live in London which if my geography's correct is in ENGLAND

When Scotchland gets separated from the rest of us we can only be England so you'd better get your identity sorted out

Jae said...

"According to Google and wholinkstome, no sites link to this post."

Seriously. I understand you dislike what I have said, as I have said it was labelled as a rant and as with all rants I would think it could be taken with a strong pinch of salt. You are entitled to your opinion and I have no plans to belittle you or your beliefs. But this is just pettiness.

Here are a couple of English-centric sites linking to this very post

http://www.crossofstgeorge.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=23116

http://www.toque.co.uk/witan/

Plus I think this one:

http://www.thecep.org.uk/wordpress/2009/01/20/daily-mail-are-the-scots-racist-against-the-english/

Although that one isn't working now...

And to those who think I might label myself "A northener", I say this: I am a Kentish Man by birth and a Man of Kent by upbringing.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/kent/places/features/manofkent_kentishman.shtml

Although I'll admit... my fathers side are from Beverley, Yorkshire.

And what is this obsession with Scotland and Wales. This post was about people calling me English. No one has ever suggested I am Scottish or Welsh and thus I felt I could quite freely ignore those subjects.

Thanks again guys for taking the time to comment, even if you are completely disagreeing with me. It's a free country after all!

wonkotsane said...

Jae,

You're right, I see that there's a link on the Witan group homepage and presumably there's one on cosg.net but I haven't checked. There's not one on the CEP site, I write most of what's on there and I wrote that post you referred to.

Dvorak said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dvorak said...

Ah Kent.. A beautiful county it must be said. So beautiful that it is commonly referred to as the "Garden of England".

My apologies for thinking you were a Northerner :)

Tommy 3 Lions said...

Wasn't Kent originally known as the guardian of England as it was the first line of defence against the frog chompers? I heard this a while ago but the title changed over a period of time to the garden? Nice county tho especially along the borders with East Sussex.

Jae said...

It's known as the Garden of England because of all the orchards and hop farms that until recently covered the county (and still form an important part of it's charm in places). Kent is less famous for keeping the French at bay from across the channel (although obviously there's plenty of history there!) and more famous for the possibly untrue tale of it's holding out in the West against that famous man from France, William the Conqueror, which earnt it it's motto "Invicta" meaning "unvanquished".

Anonymous said...

Identity is diffent to each and everyone of us. Neither is right and neither is wrong in my opinion. It is what it is. Some are happy to be covered by the British umbrella, others Scottish, English, Welsh, Irish. Some go further. Some Londoners make a big song and dance about being Norf London or Sarf London (and never the twain shall meet eh?), it has now, as you must have read, even come down to street and postcode identity where a young lad was killed purely because he was from the wrong postcode (according to his assailants anyway).

Each of us have different backgrounds and are instilled with a sense of pride at some level or other with their heritage, be it country, county, city, town, street or whatever.

I myself was Born in Scotland, I left when I was 17 to join the Royal Navy and was prepared to fight for the people of this country irrespective of wether they identifed as british, english,scots,welsh or irish. I have an English Bulldog with the Union Jack tattoo'ed on my arm. Does that make me a traitor to my place of Birth? Some would say yes (including me old dad). I see it as a statement of my pride in this country as a whole. So for me, the whole question of Identity is subjective, everyone has a right to Identify as whatever they like.

Tommy 3 Lions said...

Alright Jae, William was not actually known as the conqueror, he was known by another title twas historians whom gave him the conqueror title. I'm sure you knowmhis other title it begins with 'B'. yes mate a fine county indeed, enjoy it?

Alfie said...

Just read your post....

You need to remove those rose coloured specs. Britain is finished - and good riddance to politicised amalgamated rubbish.