{27/04/2012}   UK identity

All Brits, are you English/Scottish/Welsh/Northern Irish or British? This is something I have been thinking a lot about recently. I don’t feel I have an identity within my country.

In my ideal, fluffy world historical issues would be irrelevant and the UK would be one happy nation and I would possibly quite like being British, encompassing the huge diversity within the British population. Increasingly, I feel I might be English. But then I get uncomfortable about all the extremist associations. I was born and raised in Kent and I live there now but I don’t consider myself Kentish because I have no idea what that means. What would someone from, say, Northumbria think about me if I said that? Why would anyone know what makes someone Kentish? I have only chosen Northumbria as it’s one of the furthest counties from Kent, but our geography and economy are very different. If we both say we’re from England, doesn’t that unite us, at least a bit?

There are some many aspects of British culture that I can’t and don’t identify with. I remember a Japanese student who I would have a laugh with in class, some months later, telling me that he’d met a few English people before but hadn’t thought he liked English people because he hadn’t liked them. He said that I’d made him like English people. I felt this was good for England‑Japan relations but it really struck me the extent to which people base their impressions of a country’s people on the individuals they meet. Without a shadow of doubt, and it disappoints me hugely to say this, I don’t like most members of the British general public I come in contact with. For that reason, I guess that’s why I have identity issues.

My answer to what is an English person will be staggeringly different to that of most other people, though I wonder if, increasingly, there are other people out there like me who would merely answer: I don’t know.

In terms of the UK breaking up, I guess maybe it’s become necessary (but that’s a whole other issue!), but that won’t help with my crisis of social, cultural identity. Am I English? If so, what does that make me and what do I have in common with every other English person? I mean, my dad was from Latvia and he lived in the UK since long before I was even born. Does that change anything? Such a lengthy issue, I’m amazed I’ve kept this so short!


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