Wednesday, 6 August 2014

one nation under a groove

Did you watch any of the Commonwealth Games? As a family we were hooked right from the exciting Opening Ceremony to the entertaining Closing Ceremony. What did you think? Full marks to Glasgow I reckon and two fingers to all the miserable lot who compared it with the London 2012 ceremony - come on people, get a grip - like, er think about the budget yeah? Regardless of that it was an enjoyable, funky, loud, bright, earthy, hearty performance. Okay, okay I admit my eyebrows raised in question to the appearance of John Barrowman, but my night was made by the TV heaven combo of Chris Hoy and James McAvoy on screen at the same time.  We have marvelled at some of the amazing feats of all athletes - our favourite moments being Libby Clegg winning the parasport 100m Gold Medal for Scotland, and we all nearly fell off the sofa cheering the England Men's 4 x 400m to victory. I love it that we all sit together and cheer on pole vaulters, swimmers, gymnasts, cyclists and of course rugby teams, mainly from England but often-times from other countries too. A common question from LittleE during these games has been 'Mummy who do we want to win?'; not surprising really since we are a family of nations. Lord knows we were jumping around the living room when Kirani James was sweeping round the 400m too!

But this post is not about watching sport - yes I saw you lot at the back picking up your handbags and about to leave. No, there was a moment during the athletes' parade during the Opening Ceremony when I became very despondent and confused. As I watched the cacophony of nations take their place alongside each other, dressed immaculately and waving flags as though their hearts were about to burst, I realised I had never experienced this level of national pride, ever. As a child I was a devout follower of the England football team and cheered them on to (some) victories, but during the 1980s I would not have considered myself as English, British maybe but not English. As my interest has increased I have cheered many England rugby teams on over the last few years but have only become comfortable waving the St George's cross since the birth of the 3G - half English through their father's heritage. During the Olympics in London 2012 I felt extremely proud cheering British teams on during London 2012... proud to be a Londoner that is. These monumental games were in my city of birth. So just where does that nationalistic pride come from? And is it possible for a person to develop pride in a country that may not always have welcomed their kind?

Born and bred in the UK, I have been raised with some knowledge of my parent's Caribbean home nations of Grenada and St. Lucia, yet I feel no affinity to any one country. Independence in these countries has seen many of a generation raised as British subjects and raised their own families in Britain, strengthen their allegiance to their home nations from colder shores; for some the distance and the time away is too much, and they settle in a kind of apathy to national pride. In days past watching athletes Daley Thompson or Linford Christie wrapping the Union Jack around their shoulders I used to wonder what I would do (in my youthful athletic days), would I be able to wrap a flag around me that had been synonymous with racism and the BNP? Well I never got to find that out because my athletic career waned but the question is raised again when I sit with my family during sporting events. When I see sportsmen and women grabbing their shirt emblems and inconsolable Brazilian crowds in pieces when their team gets battered, I'm gutted, jealous even, that I don't feel a burning pride or over-riding emotion for any particular country. How marvellous it must be to belt out a national anthem and mean every word, as we saw with Charlie Flynn singing 'Flower of Scotland' as he collected his medal? 

I wonder how the 3G will feel about their home nation; about the national anthem(s) that the English sing; about the countries of their ancestors? GeordieLad said he was proud to be English,and whilst it rankled a little (it's hard to wipe out a childhood of racist abuse at the hands of 'proud' English bullies) I understood - why shouldn't he have pride in the country that his forefathers have toiled in, isn't it the same reason that FantasticoDad has in Grenada? That still doesn't help me and something tells me, having reached my 40s it's unlikely I will experience unbridled patriotism, so I am resigned to enjoying the sports, marvelling at the athletes, and feeling a bit 'meh' when the anthems are sung. Are you proud of your country?


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