Brit(ish)

27 Jan

The other evening I was informed by a British contemporary, who shall not be named, that I’m ‘practically British,’ owing to my ancestry. I assure you that no one had made this suggestion previously and thus, I was quite surprised. I was also sceptical. I saw myself as purely (100% Canadian).

Well perhaps the phrase ‘purely’ is a tad of an overstatement. Everyone in Canada identifies with the origin of their parents or Grandparents. I’d always said Polish because both my mother’s parents were from the Eastern European country and it seemed easier to attribute myself to the culture I was most familiar with.

While it’s true that my Grandfather and his sisters were/are British, I’d never given much consideration to the cultural influences they may have had on me. I always saw them as Lithuanians, anyway, as their parents came from Lithuania to England many years ago. My Grandfather hadn’t hit his third decade when he’d arrived in Canada. So, to me, England was only ever a temporary stopover for my family.

But maybe I was wrong? My Zadie (Yiddish word for Grandfather) may have died when I was 12 but I’m sure he left me with some British tendencies. Perhaps it’s owing to my early experiences with him or the fact that one quarter British blood flows through my veins but these resemblances are apparent.

Firstly, back in Canada, people accused me of lacking warmth and being a tad aloof. My brother and father (who I believe are overly demonstrative) used to force me into hugs as my body lay limp and discomfited in their arms. Here, no family member or friend would dream of forcing me into a hug against my will!

Then, there’s my predilection for coffee’s caffeine alternative. I always wondered why my brother and I drank tea so copiously when neither our parents nor the majority of our contemporaries shared this obsession. My brother and I, though, we obsess over tea and always manage to dent our parents’ supply when visiting. Also noteworthy: we grew up saying, “Put the kettle on, please.” We did pronounce our t’s though, which means we can’t be that British.

Finally, there’s sarcasm. Not sure if I can count this one because I’ve already written of the differences in the brand of humour between nations. I appreciated, and doled out my fair share, of sarcasm when in Canada but England is another story.

I guess, all in all, it’s just not to be able to identify a little bit (even if not very much) with the country I’ve chosen to reside in (for now).

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One Response to “Brit(ish)”

  1. Barri January 27, 2011 at 2:53 pm #

    Good post 🙂 I disagree though with your Grandad not being British because he moved in his twenties. He would have been about my age and I’m as British as it gets.

    Also, your Dad would have been raised in a half-British household so that’s got to rub off on you further down the line.

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