I've got the fever...

>> Friday, 11 June 2010

I'm British. Well, to be absolutely specific about, I'm English. You might have noticed. It's not something I talk about much, because it's so much a part of me that I don't normally feel the need to analyse it. It's just an intrinsic part of who I am, like being a woman, having dark hair and yet still burning before I tan, being a feminist, and being brought up a Roman Catholic (more of which another time).


But there's nothing to make you more aware of your nationality than moving away from your home country. A lot of the touch-points that you take for granted, such as hearing your native language spoken around you, hearing the 'duh-duh-duh-duh' at the beginning of the East Enders closing credits, and the casual references to archaic drinking laws, Paddington Bear and Top of the Pops that get thrown into nostalgic conversations with friends are suddenly not part of daily experience any more.

Don't get me wrong; in my London-life I was hardly surrounded by Brits. In the Boys' school and nursery classes they were each in a minority of 2 in holding only British passports (yes, they could also have a Dutch one but that's Husband's job to sort out, so 6 years down the line we're still waiting on those...), and when we went out into the communal gardens where we lived I was invariably the only Brit around. I was surrounded by people of all nationalities in central London, and I loved it.

Living in Moscow and mixing with very few Brits has however had some interesting effects on me. I find, for example, that frequently I'm camping up my English accent. Sometimes I sound like the Queen's cousin, for god's sake. I find myself correcting the Boys' pronounciation too; one of my favourite phrases at the moment seems to be 'it's got a 't' in it. A T! Not a D, a T!' I find myself making a point of calling things by their English names; it's 'pavement' not 'sidewalk', and 'biscuit', not 'cookie', for example.

I've found myself hunting high and low in the shops here for cornflour, not to thicken sauces but to make shortbread. Shortbread! I probably made it twice a year when we lived in London. Now? Almost a weekly treat. And when my mother-in-law arrived this week for a short stay, she delivered - as I had requested - Golden Syrup, so that I can make the Boys some gingerbread.

I even found myself offering to provide 'English' recipes to Melissa for her to feature at Smitten by Britain if you're interested in the shortbread recipe, by the way... (click here for the link).

And now? Well, now the football World Cup is about to start, and the fever's got me. I can't help it, I'm rooting for my home team even though I know it's the longest of long shots that they'll make it past the quarter finals. Whilst I didn't go so far as buying a cross of St George to put on the car (unfortunately it seems to rather miss the point, being in Moscow and all - and frankly, you don't want to single yourself out as an expat on the roads here) I did buy my sons England football shirts in London last week. Would I have bought them if we had still been living there? Would I hell. (Whether my opinionated children will actually wear them, of course, is another thing entirely.)

So in a fit of Englishness I'm going to leave you today with what 'I still believe' (geddit?) is the best English world cup song to date, albeit in it's updated version for the 2010 tournament. As far as I can tell - from 1500 miles away - the official video is not yet out, so here is a youtube offering (Thanks Bob at Smitten by Britain for pointing me towards this). Watch it if you can handle the mix of best and worst moments of England at the World Cup for the last 40-odd years.

And I have to admit - I did punch the air a couple of times whilst watching...


16 comments:

PantsWithNames 11 June 2010 at 10:11  

I'm exactly the same. We flew England flags from our car during the qualifying campaign and got the boys footy shirts. LOVE the video, almost made me teary. Oh dear, must get a grip!

Martini Mummy 11 June 2010 at 11:07  

Brilliant! The video is inspired. Makes you proud to be English...

By the by, the comment about waiting for your husband to sort out dual nationality made me chuckly. Baby H is entitled to a Canadian passport thanks to his father, but 15 months in and he's still no closer to having it...

nappy valley girl 11 June 2010 at 13:35  

Fab song, makes me all nostalgic. We're looking forward to watching England v USA tomorrow - at last, a sport at which we are hopefully better.

I'm with you on D and T. And although I Americanise my accent sometimes to be understood, I do camp it up occasionally as welll!

Heather 11 June 2010 at 14:02  

I never felt more American than when I was in South America or more of a Yankee than when I was living in the south.

You'd be amused (or horrified) by all the magazine articles in the US in the past month trying to teach Americans about the World Cup. I think it is hopeless...

Mickle in NZ 11 June 2010 at 14:34  

Over here we are super supportive of the NZ team - the second time ever that we've made it there. The last was back for 1982, when I was a young and very slim 17....

Now, the All Whites chances are probably just as slim however, Our All Whites team shirts have sold out in the shops - now that doesn't happen for the All Blacks!

Be your most English of English, with pride and joy, and love of Golden Syrup (we have it too - no substitute ever).

SeaThreePeeO 11 June 2010 at 14:36  

Brilliant song and video. Even though I know it's not the offical video, this one fits the song very well.

nappy valley girl 11 June 2010 at 16:42  

Felt so fired up by your post that I've linked to it! Come on En-ger-lund....

Expat mum 11 June 2010 at 17:45  

I think I need to get a little more involved. Someone at school asked me yesterday if I was getting excited about the match and I hadn't a clue what he meant! BTW - could I have your shortbread recips if you have time to send it? I'm having a few people round on Sunday and decided to do strawberries, ice cream and shortbread. I have tried two different recipes this week and I'm not really liking wither of them.
expatchicago@gmail.com
(Don't worry if you don't have time.)

Expat mum 11 June 2010 at 17:46  

Please ignore crap spelling.

Pig in the Kitchen 11 June 2010 at 21:32  

I'd like to rejoice with you, but my hatred of football quashes all patriotic fervour...

the French just drew 0-0 with Uruguay tho ha ha ha! (or maybe they lost, I dunno)
Pigx

Smitten by Britain 12 June 2010 at 03:58  

Thanks for the link Justine. Best of luck tomorrow. I'll be cheering for your side.

Couture 12 June 2010 at 14:34  

Know what you mean - we felt complelled to have cream tea every week when we lived in the desert.

Potty Mummy 13 June 2010 at 08:16  

A draw? A DRAW? Against the USA? I have no words. Too disappointed to reply individually, sorry...

mothership 14 June 2010 at 07:22  

I TOTALLY get what you're talking about re. the expat thing. I'm much posher and more English than I ever was at home, and curiously have also traveled back in time and become very old fashioned with my manners. Or maybe I just mean old?
Husband still failed to get children German passports six years on. I say nothing.

Bush Mummy 14 June 2010 at 19:55  

Blimey I just welled up watching that.. and I have not the slightest interest in this year's WC.. shame on me.

BM x

Muddling Along Mummy 15 June 2010 at 09:40  

That is THE best football song - reminds me of 1996 all over again

Can see that I'm going to get completely sucked into the world cup this summer... ooops

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