Sunday, May 04, 2008

Being British

A friend on Ealing Forum asked me, " How would you define the essential characteristics, personalities and traits of being British?"

First of all the essential characteristic is not a British passport.

Patriotic loyalty is to the UK. Home is where the heart is, not residence. So people in Gibraltar may be British in a way the Alex Salmon is not.

It is not therefore ethnicity. It is something cultural not race or residence.

Respect for the rule of law and liberty under it.
A certain reserve (Ulster Scots and Yorkshire folk may be exceptions to this) You do not wear your heart on your sleeve nor do you parade your wealth.
You are not ashamed of your heritage nor do you brag about it.
You welcome foreigners but they do not feel you warmly embrace them.
Good manners and politeness. Women and children first. Orderly queues.
You want the UK to continue united. You are not a nationalist for any one country in the UK.
You can sing the national anthem. You are not a republican.
You understand ironic humour.
You can joke about those whose origins are from other UK countries.
Either English is your mother tongue or you have made an effort to learn it.
You tolerate diversity.
You may not be Christian but you do recognise the Christian influence in our cultural heritage.
A sense of fair play.
Being good losers.

I have to confess, if asked how I view myself, my answer is in terms of self identity, in order of heart felt importance, Christian, English, British.

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