What country do we live in?


I was born in Britain. So were about 60 million other people. I thought I still lived there, but it turns out I was wrong. I now live in “the U.K.”

You would think someone had passed a law banning the word “Britain”. For about a year now I've noticed that everyone – except me – calls the country “the U.K.” often using contorted turns of phrase to make it fit in the sentence.

Maybe I'm living in the past; but certainly for the first thirty or forty years of my life “the U.K.” was the American name for Britain. America was also the first place where people from Britain were called “Brits”. Now we call ourselves Brits, and we live in the U.K.

Now American culture's a wonderful thing, and we have gained a lot from contact with the USA. But when it comes to what we call ourselves shouldn't we be the judge? Polish people don't call their country “Poland”, they call it “Polska”. Why should we be different?

I'm wondering if there's some perverse political correctness in this. Just because the BNP go around waving the Union Jack, does the name “Britain” have right-wing overtones? Personally I don't use the name in a patriotic way; it's just a geographical and political abbreviation for “The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland” which is a bit of a mouthful to say all the time.

We've already claimed back the Union Jack from the right wing in several ways; maybe it's time we claimed back Britain as a handy short name for the country we live in.



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