One year. Today, it’s exactly one year since we boarded a plane in cold and dreary Finland, having said goodbye to our friends and family, and flew to the island of Britannia to take root in her soil and become a part of her flora. Poetic, aren’t I? In honour of this most blossoming of events I thought I would ask you to indulge me in talking about my sudden onset of patriotism? But since we both know I do most of the talking in this relationship I will simply take your silence as a vocal and enthusiastic “Yes”.
Yes. Good. You’re still here. I almost got a bit worried there, that you would… you know… leave me rambling to myself like someone with “questionable mental faculties”. You know, a crazy person? Anyway. I’m glad you’re still around, so I can monologue you to death.
For every day I’m living here I’m noticing an emotion I — seriously — didn’t even know I had. The word “Patriotism” rings terribly in my ears — much in thanks to people abusing it — but it’s probably the closest word I can think of to describe what I’m feeling.
For years I’ve thought of myself — and been proud of it — as a man with no particular allegiance to any country, and whilst I suppose that still holds true to some extent, I have noticed myself comparing Finland to England with Finland many times coming up on top.
I wanted to see which comparisons held water and which ones didn’t. And in the name of neutrality I even tried to make my research impartial, so naturally I went to my local library…
I’m kidding. I searched the internet using Google like everyone else who isn’t a Luddite (or my wife). Even though I actually made the effort — a few months after we moved here — to get a library card, valid in all of Kent County Councils libraries, I have found their selection to be a bit limited and too Stephenie Meyer focused.
Anyway. Where were we? Oh yes, impartial research. Turns out, I’m not completely wrong in my comparisons. Having read through, amongst other things, the Human Development Report from 2011 — free to download here — I have come to some rudimentary conclusions. Finnish people are more and better educated than English people who in turn get to enjoy their ignorant — No? Too soon? — lives, a comfortable 6 months longer than Finnish people. One can only speculate why we die sooner but my money is on the fact that Finnish people commit suicide more often than the English. Yes, the suicide statistics for Finland are higher and yes, there is such a thing as suicide statistics. English people enjoy greater personal freedom than Finnish people, which probably contributes to them not killing themselves — No? Too soon? — quite as often.
On a less morbid note it’s interesting to see that despite birth-control pills being available for free, England has a higher birth rate than Finland where they are not. Maybe their puny uneducated brains — What? Still too soon? — can’t comprehend the contraceptive instructions. England has a temperate maritime climate with an average yearly temperate of 9,3 °C unlike Finland with its semi-continental climate and measly a 2,8 °C. Who wouldn’t want to shoot their brains out — Yeah, too soon — when the yearly average is barely above freezing point. It could be worse though, at least neither of us are the Central African Republic. Those guys don’t have it easy.
So yes, faced with an unwavering emotion of irreconcilable strength I too must face the inevitable truth; I am, at least partly, patriotic. Damn it. I was/am genuinely surprised to see this motherfucking patriotism sneak up on me.
Mind you, we’re not moving back. I do like it here that much and my wife even more so. When the time comes — in four years — we’re going to apply for a British citizenship. At which point I suspect my wife is going to denounce her citizenship with Finland. It’s a long story I might get into — with her approval — some other time. I, on the other hand, have no problem keeping both of my citizenships and since England hasn’t been much of a threat in Ice Hockey since 1936, I think I can safely cheer on Finland without conflicted thoughts.
Point is; Britannia, whilst Your fragrance might not always hold the floral note we have come to expect, we still enjoy your scent over so much.