A youtube link from my Gentleman Friend got me thinking, then I had a read of Cornish Bloke’s thoughts.
He says he’s English… English has to be one of the descriptions of myself that I rarely use. Partly that was so as to get Japanese schoolkids used to the fact that the UK is Four Countries united together… if I said I was English it confused them with British so I’d say British. British, with a King who’ll come again is my national identity.
English…I’m a Lincolnshire Lass though half the time I like to lose the name (unless I’m punning about with my sexual identity…) and claim my descent from the Green County. Because it says more about where I’m from poetically than does Lincolnshire, which gives you a direction and a geographical space.
Let me explain, I’m from Larkin country;
‘Love again: wanking at ten past three
(Surely he’s taken her home by now?),
The bedroom hot as a bakery,
The drink gone dead, without showing how
To meet tomorrow, and afterwards,
And the usual pain, like dysentery.’
Let me explain, I’m from Tennyson country;
‘ Willows whiten, aspens shiver,
The sunbeam-showers break and quiver
In the stream that runneth ever
By the island in the river,
Flowing down to Camelot.
Four gray walls, and four gray towers
Overlook a space of flowers,
And the silent isle imbowers
The Lady of Shalott. ‘
Let me explain, I’m from Newton country, where the ‘notion of gravitation came to mind’ beneath an apple tree…
And the green dyes covered an outlaw but they came from out there on the fens where the skies are huge and you can hear the pye-wipe eerie and believe it’s the Tiddly Man calling you home. Theres love and it’s practically indistinguishable from sex and theres jealousy beneath a sky which is only like you get in the Green County. Theres a certain level of sanguine cynicism out there in the fields that got took back from the sea;
‘Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
And don’t have any kids yourself.’
‘Why should we sorrow for the dead?
Our life on earth is but a span;
They tread the path that all must tread,
They die the common death of man.’
I lived ‘Where sky and Lincolnshire and water meet.’ and crossing behind the backs of houses of friends you could smell the fish docks and see the river begin. I’m from between the land of the fisherman who took in the greatest outlaw, long before Robin had put on the Green of my County in his woods, no I’m from between the fisherman’s home and between the swamps and marshes that housed Grendel and his mother and witnessed their defeat. I’m from the Green County. We’re a land of heroes and battles, when Arthur fought at Dubglas he fought in Lindsey, near my beautiful Wolds.
I’m from the Green County, and I’m waiting for my King to return.
My roots? Do I need a flag to hang up and wave? St. George killed a dragon and it means less to me than the red and the white dragon fighting beneath Vortigern’s tower. The Union Jack, now that means something, that gives me a history to see in the flag, the union of England and Scotland,Nothern Ireland making me wince to have to explain the bloody, conqueoring history of the English and the Welsh missing from the flag and me all aware of their dragon that isn’t seen. A naval history in the very name of the Jack. So I’ll take the Union Jack for my flag thankyou very much.
My roots? I’m English, reserved and prudish as far as anyone who doesn’t look can see, peel me back and I’m bloody and sexual and ready for anything. But will I ever describe myself as English? I’m British and I’m waiting for the King to come back.
I’m composite, made up of invaders, English, Norman, Viking and Roman I’m no more English than my Dad is Australian, than my Great Grandmother was Gypsy than my ancestors were German, were Yorkshire lasses, were Sunderland lads, were Scottish. I am British because I’m a mongrel mix.
The land flows up through my feet and the history fills my head, my Goddess is here between my fingers, up in amongst the feelings in my toes. Lady of the Wild-Things, for me Robert Graves tells me how I know my identity, the girl who’s only felt home three times. I know that I am British, listening to the head of Bran, waiting for Arthur to come home and claiming Robin Hood and Beowulf for a home amongst the pye-wipes and you know it’s the Union Jack I’ll take for my flag thankyou very much because to be British is to be aware of the White Goddess’s land, and to know her history and I’ll keep on waiting for the King to come back. Because to be British is to know the poetry of the land… how’s the weather where you are?