What it means to be British is a matter of some interest and debate at the moment. British Asian, white British? A nation of immigrants? Which nation? English or British? British values? Meanwhile, and much more trivially, those of us heading to the IFES* World Assembly were plunged into this messy whirlpool of national identity crisis by being instructed to wear national dress for an evening at the World Assembly. Now, 2 of our party (including me) aren't from Britain (served by UCCF) despite being British, one of our party is happily saying she'll wear Welsh costume as national dress (which, selon moi, also doesn't represent our national British movement), and one who sometimes likes to emphasise his Indian descent is saying a T-shirt and jeans is as dressy as he'll go. I haven't asked the Director or Chair of the Trust Board... but I propose we wear what we consider to be normal clothes, and all carry umbrellas prominently.
That is, after all, one thing on which we can agree as far as living in Britain goes, if not being British. The weather. Living in Britain is... on a lovely sunny morning, with a pleasant breeze, hanging our your washing on the line in the back garden: with that lovely sunny feeling that accompanies the warmth of the sun on your back, the smell of newly laundered clothes and the gentle touch of the breeze. Getting to the end of the line, and the last item of clothing, and feeling the light drops of rain starting to grace your upturned face. Taking down all the washing again, and setting it up inside instead. Looking out the window and seeing that the sun has come out stronger and the rain has not delivered on its promise: and putting the washing back out again. Sitting back down inside, and after a while, hearing the cracking roar of thunder across the sky: look out the window - sky black - dashing back out and taking the washing in. The heavens opening: rainstorm. I look out the window now, with washing safely inside. It's gloriously sunny, with a pleasant breeze.
Living in Britain, talking about the weather is not such a monotopical thing as it might appear. Yesterday I chatted to Canadians and Iranians, all recently come to England. What did they want to talk about? The weather.
* Visit IFES' rather good new website, with exciting interactive map!