A letter from the Home Office arrived a few weeks ago, informing me that my application for British citizenship had been successful.
My citizenship was finalised by a trip with Dan to our local register office for a citizenship ceremony, joining a very diverse group of other would-be UK citizens.
It was an interesting experience; particularly when a number of the other candidates were unable to read --or repeat-- their affirmation of allegiance in English. I found myself wondering how on earth they had managed to complete the Life in the UK test.
Dan and I discussed it at length over lunch. We mused aloud about the reasons why so many people want to stay in the UK. Better opportunities for career advancement, wealth, status, and of course marriage would probably rank in the top four.
Easterners migrate West, looking for opportunity and better living conditions. Westerners give up wealth and opportunity in favour of more mindful, community-based, slower-paced lifestyles. Some of them even move East in order to do so. Oh, the irony!
Anyway, back to the ceremony. We repeated our oaths, affirmations, and pledges; we listened to a little speech from the mayor; and then stood respectfully as a full orchestral arrangement of "God Save the Queen" blasted from a cupboard in one corner. Dan was all ready to sing, full voice, and was quite disappointed when the ceremony officiants and mayor stood mutely during the anthem. I have to admit I felt rather let down as well because I actually know all the words to "God Save the Queen" and it is so easy to sing in comparison with the American national anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner". The postscript to my childhood renditions of our anthem was always a sore throat.
As I waited to have my photo taken with the mayor, Dan mentioned that he often confuses the American national anthem with a different song. He tried to think of the name of it, but couldn't. Then I suggested, "Land of Hope and Glory"? but as soon as the title of that patriotic British song was out of my mouth, tried to verbally retract it. Dan laughed at me. Eventually we figured out that he was thinking of "America the Beautiful", a poetic hymn which I personally prefer over the slightly more pretentious "Star-Spangled Banner".
I was quite possibly the only attendee who did not possess a smart-phone. Fortunately, Dan has one so I did not feel the peer pressure hitting me too hard. And Instagram makes everyone look better, with filters like Early Bird:
Dan thinks that now I am half-British, I should start rocking a bit more of a chav-tastic style. I don't know. I don't think I'll be able to afford to change my wardrobe now. It contains so many classic,
well-worn vintage styles from the 1990s and beyond, featuring various tie-dye, batiking, mended holes and rips, homemade and reconstructed creations, and some eco-friendly bamboo and hemp fabrics. None of it is brand-name enough to be chav.
Please catch the sarcasm contained within the paragraphs of this post. Please. Otherwise I sound very earnest indeed.