I find myself in an awkward position here; although feeling distinctly liberated from the shackles of enforced patriotism/ nationalism (in its traditional sense, as opposed to jingoism), I can’t say I’m not enjoying it. However it has revealed to me a strange phenomenon that people on the individual scale believe in purely, and that is the existence of common national interest, national pride, and a love for the motherland and its contents.
I suppose that this notion flummoxes me to a greater degree than most because I was reared not only as a Polish girl, but till the age of six I resided with my family in Switzerland. Returning to the UK (I was born there), I was presented with a reality exactly as JG Ballard described it: a “small, grey, tired little island, very dark, where it drizzled perpetually.” Naturally, I was not enamoured with the place, yet the alienation extended far beyond the meteorological lugubriousness; the attitudes, the social customs, the simultaneously minute and grand scale of everything – these were all bizarre to me and instantly generalisable.
As a kid, I couldn’t help but feel the language and social attitudes to be a reflection of the weather. This was one of my pet theories. It was only when I reached double digits, the era of my life that provided my crashing introduction to great literature and contemporary music, that I even began to feel grateful for being there, and the utopia of my youth – the cowbells, the incessant yodelling, the jagged violence of the mountains and water and light – faded into a distant dream.