Thursday, November 13, 2008


A number of years ago, when I lived in the valley, I spoke to Isidro about Juan who had bought a lot of land up thereabouts. Where does he come from I asked? “Oh he’s from Granada, a foreigner – in fact he’s more foreign than you because you live here!”

Isidro’s end of the valley was in Málaga province, mine in Cádiz, but it was to the Cádiz villages of San Pablo and Jimena that he went to the shops, the doctor and so on rather than Gaucín. None-the-less he insisted he was a Malagueño and did not want to be thought of as a person from Cádiz.

So I guess if you asked Isidro where he was from he would first say the arroyo de las Gallinas, then Gaucín, followed by Málaga, Andalucía and finally Spain – bearing in mind that all outside his pueblo were foreigners.

In the nation of Spain there are those areas that are Spanish and those that would claim separate nationhood such as the Cataluña and Basque regions. (I won’t complicate matters by mentioning all the other areas with various aspirations as there would be nowhere left). If Barcelona soccer team won the European Championship it would be a Spanish victory but reportedly when Spain won the European Final the achievement was ignored in much of Cataluña.

So what am I? I am a Londoner, English and British whilst giving a nod to my Irish ancestors. Or am I? According to a dictat from Caerphilly Council – I and the rest of the nation should no longer be called British in case we found it offensive. Apparently it suggests a false sense of unity and might be upsetting to people from Scotland, Wales and ethnic minorities.

Caerphilly has been best known for its cheese. Correction, it was only known for its cheese – well, until now that is. Apparently 3,900 of the council’s workers describe themselves as “white British” with another 5,400 saying they are “white Welsh”. Give me strength!

The Caerphilly booklet states: “Many Scots, Welsh and Irish resist being called British” – I notice that the poor English seem to be excluded from this even though they make up the vast majority.

I am sorry but we all happen to live in the British Isles and therefore are British plus whatever nation within the United Kingdom we come from. If you are an Indian who becomes nationalised then you are British as I would be Indian if I became a citizen of that country... or indeed Spanish if I took nationality here.

I suspect all this would have old Isidro scratching his head. He certainly doesn’t want you thinking he is from Cádiz but he would be outraged if you told him he wasn’t Spanish.

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