SEAN BLACKMAN: Steer clear of Brexit talk for happy dinner parties

Our regular Gosport contributor looks at what it means to be British

Saturday, 7th April 2018, 7:00 am
Sean thinks there's more important things in life than the colour of the British passport

I know our family is not unique by being divided by the European Referendum.

Some of us were for Brexit, some of us were Remain, and the fact that all of us had different ideas of what we were voting for continues to be one of the reasons Brexit is not the staple diet of any conversation at the dinner table.

We tend to avoid the shark infested waters of such subjects, such as the new blue passport, and prefer the gentle streams of ‘What have you been up to?’type conversations. It’s much safer.

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Nevertheless, one fact that does unite us is that we are all proud to be British and like the British way of life, even though it is unlikely any of us would use the word ‘proud’.

The idea of boasting about ourselves or our achievements is not part of the British psyche.

For example, it has amazed me that the most successful people I know, when asked how they are doing, rather than go into overdrive by stating in detail really how successful they are, instead simply reply ‘not too bad’, ‘fine’ or simply ‘okay’.

There is something particular, unique and distinctive about being British, but it is not necessarily in the same way as we might think.

I appreciate many of us value the NHS, the Queen, our contribution to music and the dramatic arts, our educational institutions, and our rich and fascinating history, and that is well and good.

However, I wonder whether being proud to be British is different to what we might first expect.

For instance, we have an obsession with the weather. Many conversations start with some reference to how cold or warm it is and whether the sun is likely to come out at some point during the day.

We are good at queuing. It is a simple way to identify holidaymakers from the UK.

We believe a cup of tea can solve any problem. This may be more a trait of those who are members of the older generation, but don’t be surprised if you share a problem or an issue with someone and they ask if you ‘fancy a cup of tea?’

We expect everyone to speak English. Our attempts to communicate to our foreign friends by speaking louder, slower and with a foreign accent rarely works.

We do not take ourselves too seriously and are good at laughing at ourselves.

I have friends from America who find this particular trait strange, particularly those who are used to pledging allegiance to the American flag.

But, regardless of our gender, sexuality, race, religion or politics, we can say being British is more important than the colour of our passport.