alithea: (Mucha Fran&Katchoo)
National identity is a funny old thing. As a young person, I think you probably start off inheriting your national identity from your parents but as you get older, particularly if you move away and make your home some place else, it becomes a more complicated. Unsurprisingly, the indy ref has brought up a lot of issues regarding national identity and one person of my acquaintance just straight out said to me 'I'm surprised that as a recent immigrant to Scotland, you are supporting independence'. Now as it happens, my support for independence is not about national identity, it's about democracy and representation. I'm a federalist at heart but as we are quickly finding out now, the UK is not in the least set up in a way to achieve federalism any time soon. But the national identity thing is still an interesting discussion. So here are my thoughts:

I don't think I've ever felt British in my life. I was always English.

For context, my mother's family are very English on both sides and probably go back to the Doomsday book in the Beds/Bucks region. On the other hand, my father is Irish Catholic on one side and German Jewish on the other. Rather than being 'British', he has always referred to himself as being a mongrel and I think would probably identify as a European more than anything else (he infamously had a blazing row with the modern language teachers at my high school about how they should teach Spanish rather than German because Germans spoke English anyway and communicating in Europe was the future). Scotland was never on my radar until I lived here (my parents used to holiday in Kirkcudbright but the last time we did so as a family was when I was still too young to remember), Wales was somewhere my father hated with a passion (he lived there for a few years as a small boy and got bullied pretty badly for being English I think) that I only ever went to on biology field trips, and Ireland was a place across the water that my name and love of potatoes came from (a day trip to Dublin was my sole experience of the place until I met the Boy).

So regardless of actually *being* British, if you'd have asked teenage me what I was, I'd have said English every time.

Then I moved to Scotland.

Now for those of you who have never lived in Scotland (or Wales, or NI) let me share this - you don't have to live up here very long at all before you quickly realise how England-centric all the national news/media/whatever is and how utterly ignorant your average English person is about life and politics up here. I know because I *was* that ignorant English person. When I announced I was moving to Aberdeen to my friends at uni, one of them thought it was in Wales, and believe me, lack of knowledge of geography is only the start of the issue.

Now in Aberdeen, I was only at home in the bubble that was the old city, the university campus populated by folks from all over the world, so my Englishness remained. Also, I was miserable and there is nothing more inward looking than a depressed PhD student (I exaggerate for effect).

But when I moved to Dundee, I made a *home* for myself. Now home is a funny old concept just like national identity. Home had always been a difficult subject for me because I had been an outsider growing up because my parents weren't local and no-one ever believed I'd been born and bred in Staffs because I didn't *sound* local. Now don't get me wrong, I wasn't an *outcast*, I made friends for life at school, but I also spent my entire school career being bullied about my voice/accent, and not just by the other pupils. Anyway, at some point in the last 10 years, Dundee has gone from being the place I live, to *home* and therefore *where I come from*, and similarly I've gone from feeling English to feeling Scottish.

But you're not Scottish, I hear you thinking. Ah well, feelings don't always fit with logic now do they? So here is the thing you are missing - unlike in England where, in my experience, immigrants identify as British if they aren't *ethnically* English, Scotland in the last decade or so has successfully made Scottishness a civic identity rather than just an ethnic one. Obviously not entirely and completely but for example, you often see Asian immigrants on Scottish TV who identify as 'Scottish Asian'. Now I don't know about you, but I have never come across any Asians or indeed anyone else with non-British ancestry who identifies as 'English' anything.

And then there is the other side to this - why don't I identify as British? And now we get to the bit that is further complicated by having an Irish Catholic (pagan) husband from Northern Ireland. It's hard to be a proud Brit when a lot of stuff you are supposed to be proud of involves an army who terrorised your husband as a child, empires and wars when you're not far off a pacifist, and sporting tribalism when you are the sort of person who enjoys watching people triumph regardless of their nationality (I love ice skating; I don't believe Torvil and Dean were cheated of gold at their last Olympics, I think they were damned lucky to get the bronze and probably didn't deserve it). Visit NI in July when you have catholic family that you love and then tell me the sight of a union flag makes you proud. Listen to the anti-immigration nonsense parroted by all the Westminster crowd when you have very dear friends who have been at risk of being deported because of the stupid new rules despite Scotland desperately needing more working age immigrants and tell me it makes you proud to be British.

And then there are the great British institutions we can all be proud of like the NHS and the Welfare State. But what are we doing to these things in modern Britain? Tearing them apart is what. The more I see of the modern Labour party and the rise of UKIP in England, the more I buy into the notion that the post war to 1970s period was the blip and actually the majority of folks in Britain basically want to live in the 19th Century. And I don't thank you very much, regardless of how much I love the fashions, architecture and Arts and Crafts, and I think the majority of Scots agree with me, whereas I'm afraid despite knowing English folks who do too, I don't have faith that they are a majority.

So there we have it, I might *be* British, it is after all what it says on my passport, but I don't feel loyalty to a nation that doesn't really exist (our country is the United Kingdoms of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) over a place that is my home. If we can be the Scotland I want us to be within the UK that suits me just fine, but if we can't then I'll be Scottish even if that means I'm not British any more.
alithea: (Default)
I was going to post a picture of my sparkly Yule tree today but I just discovered that both sets of camera batteries are flat so you'll have to wait until I've recharged them!

I finished reading The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly before I went swimming at lunchtime. It took me a little while to get into it, but when I did, I really enjoyed it, particularly when it turned out to have Roland in it and reminded me of The Dark Tower series. Maybe it's strange coming from a 31 1/2 year old, but I still find Coming of Age stories mean a lot to me and this one was particularly timely, reminding me that the important thing about fear is not that we don't feel it, but that we don't let it paralyze us or drive us into doing things we would never normally contemplate. It strikes me that having the courage to face our fears and act noblely inspite of them is a big part of getting the most out of this journey we call life, and as Roland's tale illustrates, it's the journey that matters...

Also, I've been surrounded by people squeeing about Tim Minchin for most of the year and have been thoroughly bemused, but then a friend pointed me towards his Christmas song, 'White Wine in the Sun' and now I get what everyone is on about. For those of you who can't be bothered to click on the YouTube link and listen, it's a rather poignant and touching ballad about how he really likes Christmas because he spends it with his family, the people who make him feel safe in this world, and it sums up really nicely why I don't hold any truck with people who insist Christmas is pointless without Jesus (no offense to the Christians out there whose religious festival has been co-opted, but I think you have to accept that these days, in the UK at least, it is a secular festival to the majority of people who celebrate it)(even though I'm not freaked out by churches and would rather have Desmond Tutu than Dawkins over for dinner). The bit about the hymns particularly stuck a chord (*heehee*) because it is the singing that I miss most about going to Church on Christmas Eve.
alithea: (V ideas (made by garinungkadol))
'We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.'
T.S. Eliot, from [ profile] white_hart

'My sexuality and pleasure have nothing to do with my feet hurting'
Cybill Shephard, courtesy of [ profile] frankie_ecap


Aug. 30th, 2007 10:04 am
alithea: (Kaylee (made by viadisaster))
It's amazing how much better a place the world seems when you've got to sleep at just after 11 pm, woken up around 8 am, and been brought your morning cuppa in bed by your star of a boyfriend at 8.15 before he heads off to work :) Now it's just after 10 and I'm showered, dressed, and breakfasted; I've read my friends page and scanned Facebook, and I'm ready to spend a productive day writing before my relaxation class this evening.

I should go the bed at 10 pm more often.
alithea: (Ivanova (made by amergina))
I can't post pictures 'cos my paid account has expired and i can't get LJ to accept my debit card details to renew it and i don't know why because it worked last year :( And the number of times i attempted to get it to work better not make the bank cancel my card thinking someone was trying to use it fraudulently, 'else I'll be really annoyed, and also very much inconvenienced :( Maybe I should phone the bank and check...


I'm stuck in a major rut at the moment, i can't seem to achieve anything and it's making me really frustrated :( I can't believe over half the year is gone; it's Lammas on Tuesday, the first harvest festival, so I'm supposed to be starting to enjoy the fruits of my years labour, and instead I have naff-all to show for myself. So much for my 2006 revolution :(

Sitting here, staring at this isn't going to help unless i'm working though so I'll take my grumpy self off elsewhere...

Oh, one non-moaning thing to report; watched the recent film of Pride and Prejudice last night, expecting to maybe not enjoy it that much given the BBC version was somewhat definitive, and actually really enjoyed it! Very well done, some cunning little cinematography tricks, and very well acted. And I correctly identified the outside of Pemberley as Chatsworth :) Although, i thought they also filmed on the Roaches (like the BBC version, only *NOT* claiming to be in Derbyshire (my pet peeve with that version, Derbyshire are always trying to make out the Roaches are not in Staffordshire when they clearly are!) only the Peak District) but it seems that they didn't after all...
alithea: (Red Inara (made by singingrl))
Achievements so far this week:

Exercise - T'ai Chi on Monday, running Thursday, plus walking as usual. Am feeling yesterdays exhertions but at least that means it's doing something!

Flat wrangling - chest of draws constructed, planned furniture arrangement for bedroom, had brain wave about side-by-side, under counter fridgefreezer to give extra worksurface in kitchen. Week not over yet re: spareroom wrangling.

Witchy training - read over first moons exercises from A Witch Alone by Marian Green. Have bought, and read most of, an introductory guide to world religions (very interesting, hadn't realised there were so many types of Buddhism for a start). Wandered round in the old graveyard in the fog on Wednesday, in The Coat, feeling like a Victorian gothic heroine.

Food - haven't eaten any ready meals, haven't bought meat from the supermarket, have bought lots of organic, British, in-season veggies. Actually looked at cook books and sussed out some new things to try.

Creativity - ended up round at Amy & Jakob's last night, coming up with a character for Jakob's Weapons of the Gods game which is taking over from Adventure! soon - am going to play The Invincible Sword Goddess, with tragedy obviously ;)

Other stuff
Finished reading Affinity by Sarah Waters. Enjoyed it but not as much as her other two. Didn't spot twist. Very Victorian and beautifully written as usual, I just didn't like the story as much and it seemed to end rather abruptly. Have bought fantastic new mermaid-tail-esque skirt in Debenhams sale, which I'm flouncing about in today :)

Now have to wrangle the old laptop because a guy from the BBC wants my colour maps from the last project for a piece on nitrous oxide emissions for an episode of Landward - very exciting!
alithea: (Default)
Faith isn't trusting the wind to tumble you somehow to wherever you're going, but instead it's trusting that the wind will bear you up if only you spread your wings.


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