Being British

I have always felt British.

I’m proudly Scottish, though I moved to England when I was seven. My husband and my children are English, and I have an English accent (that I can switch off and on at will!).

I’m a devoted Londoner, but I’m not English. The England of cricket pavilions and warm beer and other clichés is a foreign country to me.

That’s always been okay, though. Because I’m not English but I am British. I may be a Scottish Londoner but we’re all in this together, right? I still belong. We’re one big gang. Great Britain. The United Kingdom. Team GB. British has always been my go-to nationality. And today all that’s changed.

There are many reasons why the result of the referendum has upset me, but to my surprise I’ve discovered the thing that’s upsetting me most of all is the future of the UK. Scotland will undoubtedly vote for independence now – and who can blame them? Northern Ireland voted to stay and now people are calling for it to reunify with the Republic of Ireland. But London, lovely London, whose residents voted overwhelmingly to remain, is stuck.

In a selfish, childish way, this makes me want to wail: “But what about meeeee?” I feel like my parents have dumped me in this foreign country and gone home without me (they haven’t, by the way, they’re Londoners, too). It’s amazing and shocking and frightening how you can wake up one morning in the city you’ve lived in for more than 35 years and feel like you don’t belong any more.

Like everyone else today, I’ve got no idea what happens now. But I feel a huge sadness that this could be the end of my Britishness. It’s like we’re saying goodbye to something and I  think we’re going to miss it.


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