Thursday, September 26, 2013

Quintessentially British

What is it? I was wondering this late one night, after Skype-ing with my darling parents, who (obviously since I’m british) live in the UK.

It’s a symptom of my not quite so recent homesickness, or heart-sickness if you will. Since at this time in my life I cannot return to my precious homeland (honestly I really do feel that way) because of my hubbie’s work, I’m looking to up my sense of nationality in other ways.

This all started further back than I care to imagine, as anyone who is an ex-pat “anything” will eventually tell you, its a sensation that builds up over time. Unless of course you really do hate the country you find yourself in! When I was 19 or so, and I had just left the UK I loathed Britain with a passion that still surprises me, I never ever wanted to return, not even in a body bag.  But then, hate isn’t the absence of love, it is the flipside of it… the negative side of love. Then when I had left Spain, and returned from Sweden I began to seriously consider returning to the British Isles, I had friends there who egged me on. Then again, I was also considering a life in Paris, but that never happened. I never returned to Blighty, not because I didn’t want to, but rather life swung me in another direction. I met my husband, and he wanted us to live in Norway, so being the world traveller that I am I moved to Norway and began my life here. Ever since I’ve never felt completely at home here, my sentiments on the subject has always gone along the lines of: “This is a nice enough place to live, I’m content here, I have a nice place to live and someone who loves me and lots of friends. I’m not unhappy here!” Indifference, in a word!

I went home ever so often starting the year after my marriage, and every time I returned the sensation of coming away from myself was stronger. Of course, my parents live there so I have that added draw to be near them. But its so much more than that, every time I’m in Blighty I feel myself, completely, without having to try and be something or someone else. I haven’t lived and worked in Britain now for 13 years, and it feels like the time to go back. However, my husband is Norwegian and he likes the lifestyle we have here, and his job, and he’s not willing to let that go. Fair enough, I suppose!

So now I’m on a mission! A mission to find my quintessential British- ness here in Norway. I still have hopes that one day my husband might re-consider and we will move to the UK, but until then, and since I won’t risk destroying my marriage by leaving, I will have to do all I can to be as British as I can be. So I ask, what is quintessentially British? Is it afternoon tea? Being a free spirit, accepting of everyone and their particular lifestyles? Is it living in a city with a park (i.e Notting Hill)? Is it bumbling about, unable to express oneself? What is it?

I was told, not so very long ago, by an acquaintance that I was the most British person he had ever met. I put this down to the fact that national identity, in adults, grows stronger the longer you stay away from the country of your birth. That is my theory, and so far it hasn’t been disproven. When I searched for quintessentially British online, I found a number of things, one being a Facebook group. Another was a essential oil company out of the UK, and yet another was someone asking on Yahoo! what it was and getting a not quite so uplifting reply… which I’ll be honest I neglected to read. So the question hasn’t been answered for me, can I be more British than I am without moving home? Is it even possible?

I was going to continue this post trying, desperately to find my answer, but after thinking a whole night and most of the day I can’t discover one, so I will tell you more about my need for going home instead.

As you probably know, if you’ve read my blog, I am a huge geek. This includes Discworld, Doctor Who, Sherlock and pretty much anything vintage from the 1930’s to the 1950’s. See, in Norway, these things have a quite small following. These subcultures are quite small minorities. There are not many Discworld nutters here, Doctor Who is only shown on BBC entertainment (i.e digital) and therefore not widely watched or known. Vintage style has a small following, but it doesn’t have the events that it does in the UK. So apart from feeling safe and myself there, it would also give me a chance to participate in all those lovely events I can’t quite get to from here. Let me be completely honest, I want the diversity of Great Britain. I want to live somewhere I don’t know the supermarket check out girl because the supermarket is smaller than most village post offices, I want to live somewhere I can walk down the road without seeing all my neighbours or the guy from some random employment meeting. I feel like The Prisoner, unfortunately there’s no cool sixties aesthetic. 

Tomorrow, in a small effort to make myself feel more, well, myself, I’m going to have some of my friends over and eat scones. Its a small thing, but right now that’s all I’ve got! Maybe I will eventually find my core British-ness and return to being indifferent about Norway, and able to live here! Till next time!