Monday, 25 August 2008

Meet the English Family 2

Yesterday we had an arranged get together party with many members of the English side of our family. That's one of those mandatory things on the checklist whenever we visit England, being that traveling from Australia to the UK is not that trivial an affair.
For me it was only the second time I got to meet most of them, so it was a fairly interesting affair; and because, unlike the previous occasion, numbers were low and the music was not too loud, I could actually talk to some of them. Yes, I know, proper conversation is dangerous and chit chat is the rule of the day, but call me old fashioned.
Turns out there are some interesting people in the family I could easily talk to for hours, given the chance (probably the key phrase here, as I suspect the chance won't be given). One uncle, for example, is now retired and likes to spend his time reading science fiction; another is into astronomy, telescopes and such, always a subject I can easily fall for.
There were also conversations I didn't take part in. For example, showing solidarity with the family spirit (as in, wanting to avoid being cast out) I did not say a word when the topic of discussion moved on to religious grounds. That is, whether Muslim schools should be allowed in Britain, and if not then what should that imply over Church of England schools. I quickly moved away before my principles got the better of me (for the record, in my opinion the religious indoctrination of kids is a crime against humanity regardless of the particular religion).
The funniest element of the meeting was to do with Dylan, our one year old baby. Dylan was literally Made in Australia, and I can attest to that as I personally witnessed his conception (before you think I'm a pervert: Dylan was conceived using IVF). However, to his English family, Dylan is British; to them, at least given the way they communicated it during yesterday's chats, him being an Australian is side effect, and a minor one at that. A couple were even asking me about his support for the English cricket team.
Being that our household is as anti nationalist as a household can be, the referral to Dylan as British made me laugh. It's not like I have a problem with English culture; sure, the food is bad as and they're illogically attached to their queen, but British culture has a lot going for it: A lot of the books I read, the music we listen to and the TV stuff we watch are English, definitely way over England's size proportions. But still, I never think of myself as even remotely English and we never think of Dylan as English. He's a person and there's no need to label him further! We got him a British passport so he could get in and out of the EU and get the benefits involved, but support for the English national team?
The reality is that Dylan will be surrounded by peers who will drip Australian support into him, for better or worse. He will have an Aussie accent and he will follow Australian cultural trends. And unless he is to have a particular wish to be mauled by his friends, he will support the Aussie national team, too.

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