English Rose

I’ve had a number of years living as an American in England but I’ve finally got my Citizenship Invitation and that I have scheduled a Citizenship Ceremony!  How exciting!  My Citizenship Ceremony will consist of saying an Oath to Her Majesty the Queen and the Pledge of loyalty to the United Kingdom. 


My Oath that I will swear is this:


I, Foxy, swear by Almighty God that, on becoming a British citizen, I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her Heirs and Successors, according to law.


Then I pledge this:


I will give my loyalty to the United Kingdom and respect its rights and freedoms.  I will uphold its democratic values.  I will observe its laws faithfully and fulfil my duties and obligations as a British citizen.



I will then be British and will receive a certificate!  How exciting is that!  I’ll finally have been officially adopted by the one place on Earth where I feel most comfortable. 



What’s still great about being American


I believe that the best part of being American is the culture of tolerance.  I am part English, German, Native American, and possibly Swedish among other nationalities.  My background reminds me that we shouldn’t judge others.  It tells me that we all have a place in society – so long as we treat each other with respect.


It has been a long time since I lived in America – over a decade in fact – so I don’t miss much about the place now.  I’ve considered myself British for a long time… so long in fact that my list of what’s great about Britain is longer than my list about what’s great about America.  I will say, however, that I have missed the open spaces found in the US.  Originally I’m from the Midwest and I have been known to miss the long low horizon together with the perpetual bad weather. 



What I don’t like about being American


I’ve not liked being American for as long as I can remember.  Not even when I was a kid.  I don’t know if that’s because I’m a “grass is greener” girl or if it’s because I never really fit in as an American.  That sounds a little strange but it’s true.  I’ve never been the sort to follow the crowd – I’d rather sit in the corner and watch everyone else follow blindly off the cliff or dance around with a lampshade on their head.  I frequently found all the marketing and advertising difficult to swallow.  I find that the emphasis on instant gratification and sales culture feels like I’m being preached to.  I don’t like being preached to.  Maybe I’m too hard on the place and too critical of the culture but it was mine to criticise.  I’ve made my choice. 


Americans are internationally perceived as loud, stupid, proud and condescending.  I’ll give you an example: I was once in London on a Sunday in the Underground when I overheard one of my compatriots snootily saying where she came from “all the shops are open 24 hours a day!” – as if shops being open 24/7 was the greatest invention ever!  I was thoroughly embarrassed.  I wanted to say something to her like “If you think it’s so great over there – go home and don’t come back!” but I simply cringed instead.  


My thought is that I’ve come here to live and the least I can do is try to follow the rules here.  I can’t help but agree when I hear the natives say that when people immigrate to England, the least they can do is learn the language and try to fit in.  This means that while the culture values tolerance, the overwhelming majority of the population describe themselves as “Christian” and Sundays are therefore valued as a day of rest.  When I first arrived in this country none of the shops were open on a Sunday.  Now the country is more and more like the US and I take great pains to remind people here just how great Britain was before Doritos, hamburgers, shakes, McDonalds, obesity, the Patriot Act and fear.


The fact is that no matter what I do I’ll still sound vaguely American (and I’m frequently mistaken for a Canadian – which I take as a compliment on this side of the Atlantic!) means I’m regularly asked where I’m from.  I spent most of my early life cultivating my mind.  I find it rather irksome to be associated with those embarrassing Americans.  I’ll take great delight in confusing the Brits by telling them that I’m British once I have my certificate.



What’s great about becoming British


I like the thought of being British because I don’t like being associated with those loud, proud and ignorant tourists we regularly see in London. 


Why do I feel so comfortable in England?  Perhaps it’s my cynicism and the ability to laugh at myself.  When I was younger I used to think that I’d wind up in France or Canada – since I speak the lingo – and certainly hoped that I would make it to Europe but I never dreamed that I’d wind up in England.  Now I’m here I wouldn’t change it for the world.  It’s strange how life takes you away from any intentions you may have.


Why have I become so enamoured with Britain?  It’s not just the history of the place: isolationism (which is where I think Americans get their culture of isolationism), royalty, empire, and the long list of great thinkers and firsts.  A short list of greats include: Sir Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, William Shakespeare, Margaret Sanger, Thomas Paine, Mary Wollstonecraft, Charles Babbage, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Bob Geldof, Sir Winston Churchill, Charlie Chaplin, Boudica, Vice Admiral Horatio Nelson, Arthur Wellesley First Duke of Wellington, Marie Stopes, Professor Stephen Hawkin, Emmeline Pankhurst, The Beatles, and Mary Shelley.  I hate to say if I had to compile a similar list of Americans, I would struggle to do it.


I also love their sense of humour.  There is no subject that is considered taboo.  I have heard jokes about paedophilia, necrophilia, royalty, politics, and sexual fantasies.  Most of these have shocked me but also made me laugh – I like being able to laugh at racists, perverts, corruption and irony.  I cannot tolerate intolerance and intolerance is regularly shown to be narrow-minded.  I truly believe that Nazis would never be able to take over Britain because we like to lampoon our politicians.  Egomaniacs no doubt hate this place. 


Also, they have a special gift of understatement: I am reminded of Monty Python saying that a spurting amputated leg was “merely a flesh wound”.  They laugh in the face of danger.  I could be wrong but think this part of their culture dates back to the 1930s and 1940s. 


They have a saying here “If you don’t laugh, you cry.”  It seemed to me that Americans are happy to cry and make a meal out of tragedy while Brits laugh off most hardships.  I am proud to be nearly English.