Sunday, January 21, 2007

What does London remind you of?

Although I grew up in an English-speaking country and spent much of my youth reading about the history of the British culture and society – my memories of being a teenager now filled with visions of various medieval English monasteries, battles and villages all to a Mike Oldfield soundtrack – I have never spent more than a couple of hours in England travelling between the various London airports. And now that I am about to go to England for a week I find myself feeling as nervous as if I was about to meet my fiancée’s parents for the first time. Most of my cultural references are in some way tied to Great Britain, be it my favourite poets or my favourite TV shows. Many London landmarks are as familiar to my mind as the streets on which I grew up. Indeed, I feel as if the English language, itself, was integral to what I am – I very much look forward to being surrounded by once more. Some would say, I guess, that I am in the typical position of someone who grew up in one of the countries of the Commonwealth – permeated by English culture, yet separated from the actual place and the actual identity. So, when the time to reconcile the private visions with the reality comes it is likely to be difficult. Of course, I do not have the naïve view of England as a place that is in some way better or different. Indeed, I expect that most striking for me will be the similarities, similarities that, living in Europe, I would have come to have miss. Strangely, maybe England will end up mostly reminding me of growing up on the other side of the world.

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At 21/1/07 11:08 pm, Blogger Daniel Bowen said...

Yeah, I grew up smothered in British culture too, not just TV etc, but also via my English mother. Consequently, London to me strikes me as a kind of archetype of what a city should be. A kind of "City Classic" design -- the original on which all others are based.


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