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On being British

My Grandmother never passed a driving test, yet she drove a car. My Mum drove a car and although she passed her test on an automatic, she was qualified to drive with gears too. I didn't have to take a theory test, but still I'm fully qualified to drive. My daughter had to pass theory and practical (done with flying colours) and has now been through more hurdles than any of the previous three generations.

I heard on the radio yesterday that there's a backlog of some 70000 applications for British Citizenship in a queue; more complex and stringent requirements were introduced not too long ago and the new system appears not to have been ready and waiting when the doors were opened. Included in the new requirements are the ability to communicate in one of the official languages (English or Welsh) and to know about the country and its systems. Not a bad thing. And it also includes a ceremony to welcome the new Britons; I wondered about that when I first heard of it, but Lisa (who became a British citizen before the new system was in place) is all in favour - she expressed a great disappointment that what was the final step of belonging in the UK arrived as a somewhat plain certificate in the post one morning.

So what IS "being British"? I think it's feeling you belong in the UK and that it's your permanent home; you foresee staying here the rest of your life even if something were to happen to your SO. That doesn't mean that you have to understand every question in the citizenship test - heck - *I* couldn't tell you which courts sit with and without a jury - but it does mean that you'll want to gain a great deal of that knowledge.

This summer, my daughter in law will swell the queue by a further one as she completes her length-of-residency requirement. As far as I'm concerned, though, she's already British.
(written 2006-02-14, updated 2006-06-09)

 
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This is a page archived from The Horse's Mouth at http://www.wellho.net/horse/ - the diary and writings of Graham Ellis. Every attempt was made to provide current information at the time the page was written, but things do move forward in our business - new software releases, price changes, new techniques. Please check back via our main site for current courses, prices, versions, etc - any mention of a price in "The Horse's Mouth" cannot be taken as an offer to supply at that price.

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