England vs Croatia, World Cup 2018

Game plan: questions of identity

Until Wednesday this week, friends and colleagues showed great fascination in whether I would support England or France if the two went head to head in the World Cup final. Would I choose my country of birth or my country of choice?

I found it tough to answer – and not just because I don’t follow football. All the same, it raises an interesting question about my identity now.

For my partner, Damon, the issue has been resolved: he officially became Irish this week. After almost a year, he has finally received the paperwork to confirm that he is an Irish citizen, albeit one born overseas.

To our huge relief, that’s our post-Brexit future in France sorted.

“Damon officially became Irish this week. To our huge relief, that’s our post-Brexit future in France sorted”

But where does that leave my perception of self? I don’t consider myself French – and nor do the French. When I speak, they can hear I’m not one of them.

Interestingly, though, I often get asked here in Lille if I am Belgian.

Either way, I am treated as a foreigner and sometimes as just a tourist. One store assistant recently insisted on trying to give me a VAT discount and was most disconcerted when I said I couldn’t prove I live abroad… because I don’t.

But I am not sure I consider myself English anymore either.

The whole Brexit catastrophe was a game changer for me, to use a football analogy. It has made me question how I feel about the UK.

I am so disgusted in the British for turning their backs on their closest neighbours – and in doing so, on my identity – that I know I will never live there again.

“The whole Brexit catastrophe was a game changer for me. It has made me question how I feel about the UK”

It’s been suggested that losing to Croatia on Wednesday is a good thing for England in the long term. Given its misplaced superiority and the nationalism stirred by Brexit, imagine if it had won… Certainly, I’m sure the Brexiteers in the British media and political arena would have used an England win to their benefit.

As it turns out, with France playing Croatia in the final tomorrow, even the World Cup wants to stay in the EU.

So, I’ll wish the French team bon courage and wonder how I’ll feel in 4 years’ time, when the World Cup comes around again. Maybe I’ll just content myself with being European and leave it at that.

This entry was published on Sat, 14 Jul 2018 at 09:09. It’s filed under News and politics and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

8 thoughts on “Game plan: questions of identity

  1. In my experience, you may well feel neither fish nor fowl for awhile, or rather some strange hybrid. But give it a few years and you will surely start to feel French. It crept up on me!

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  2. Allen les bleues

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  3. Congrats to your partner on his new nationality! I am just about to do the same, having had an Irish grandmother. It’s rather simpler than the process of applying for French nationality – although I will do that once I’ve got the Irish one under my belt. Even after 21 years here, every time I open my mouth French people can hear that I’m not French, although I speak pretty fluently now. The accent is something you’re born with. I don’t intend to return to England and I feel like a fish out of water when I visit. I am not a football fan and neither is my husband: just as well since the England-Sweden match might have been a bit tense in this household.

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  4. For me the feeling of being French took me by surprise. Of course my accent gives away my non-French-ness as soon as I start to speak, though like you mostly I am mistaken for Belgian (even though I live no-where near the border) or occasionally Swiss – particularly when I am in Grenoble. But for me the feeling of being home was overwhelming from the first. I can analyse and postulate but in the end it matters not why. I will apply for Citizenship as soon as I am able which happens to be later this year and we have already spoken with the Maire to get his support for our applications. My husband will follow me. So it was never in doubt for me, although I am delighted that England have done so well I would have been shouting Allez Les Bleus even if the three lions had made the final. I can’t deny though that Brexit was the final nail in the coffin of my already formed feelings. 🇫🇷 ❤️ 🇫🇷

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  5. We consider ourselves European and we will be applying for French citizenship after five years. Well only two more years to go. England is not at its best now which is such a shame.

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