The news that the BNP (British National Party - an alliance of thugs who feed off people's fears, insecurities and disillusionment to promote racial hatred) have won two seats in the Euro Parliament has got me thinking about the differences between people from different countries – and what we have in common too.
Last week's Euro elections may have awoken dormant patriotism (or more likely disappointment and apathy). And that’s fine – it’s good to be proud of who you are and where you come from.
But what most of us don’t really realise is: WE’RE NOT WHAT WE THINK WE ARE.
You’d be hard-pressed to find an English person who considers themselves first and foremost European (after all, there’s 20-odd miles of Channel separating us from those Continental types!).
Sorry to break it you, but most of us little Englanders are much more European than we might be comfortable admitting to. Even BNP leader, Nick Griffin, has a less than perfect British pedigree, as his surname is of French origin.
About 95% of those that make a point of calling themselves English are actually descended from foreign immigrants, and genetic research shows that the Y-chromosomes of most English males are as Germanic as sauerkraut. The phrase “English Rose” is a complete misnomer - it describes the classic blonde-haired, blue-eyed characteristics of the invading Saxons from Germany. And it's common knowledge that the British Royal Family is more “Gebildet in Deutschland” than “Made in England”.
The Bank of England was set up by the Dutch, who also established Saville Row as THE place in London to go for fine gentlemen’s tailoring (with a little help from the French Huguenots). And the words “royal” and “roast beef” are French in origin.
And of course, I wouldn’t be forgiven if I didn’t mention the Greek influence. According to my Other Half, about 50,000 words in the English language are Greek in origin, including most medical and scientific terms.
Some might decry the sullying of pure bloodlines, national identity, etc., but think about it for a moment.
No matter how pretty some pedigree pooches might look, the healthiest and smartest dogs are mongrels. That's a fact. You only have to look at some of the world’s more isolated spots (or the British aristocracy) to see the consequences of too pure a bloodline (which could explain the peculiarities of the ultra-posh British accent).
Like the English language, the English 'race' is a mongrel. And like the lingo, it's all the more interesting for it.
So next time you start to think in stereotypes – organised Germans, passionate Spaniards, snooty French, convention-bound English, chaotic Italians, laid-back Greeks – stop for a minute and think about it. They’re qualities or faults we all have but perhaps we just don’t see them in ourselves.
We’re all part of each other – literally.