Immigration. People are obsessed with immigration. I know this from the experience of being alive. Also I know this from the experience of entering the US and being told I’m not an immigrant, even though I live here and am not American.
UK policy on immigration is always in the news, and I mostly ignore it because it is either misrepresented or boring. But when it comes to news about a test for people wanting citizenship, I’m all ears, especially when parts of the test are pointless.
When I think about how I settled into life in the US, two things helped me a lot. Being able to speak a common language, and being over-the-top interested in anything to do with sport. The key to successful integration is surely homing in on subjects that bring people together, instead of random things that nobody really cares about.
Unfortunately I fear that soon there will come a time when you can’t be British unless you know where the Battle Of Hastings took place. Any of you looking for clues to the answer, here’s one, it’s not Hastings. The absurdity of this idea not only makes me laugh at the people who came up with it, but it also makes me angry. Anybody making out that “being British” comes from knowing a few facts about monarchs needs to have a look at the world. Also, the politicization of the test has been brought up, with the wording of questions centered on Margaret Thatcher being particularly divisive.
Naturally the test has to be completed in English. However, you can request to sit it in Welsh or Scottish Gaelic. I say if any non-Briton is able to complete the test in either regional language they should not only get citizenship, but at the very least an MBE from the Queen for services to regional dialects too.
Learning to speak English to a good standard, preferably with the regional accent of where you are living, would be much more beneficial, not just to the person applying, but to everyone in the community. That way you’d fit in easier. Other optional activities I would implement could include drinking until you vomit at least once a week for, say, two months (preferably in a town center on a Saturday night), moaning about the weather at least once a day for the rest of your life, and pouring scorn on the latest immigration policies. Ah, maybe forget the last one.
The more of these you complete, the quicker your application would be processed. The fee for your application would also drop depending on tasks completed.
This is no doubt wishful thinking. So, if we have to have a test based somewhat on history here’s a tip for the question writers. In the wake of Richard III’s head being found under a car park in Leicester recently, I suggest they don’t include him. That would be far too easy. Before the last few days I’d have said go ahead, as to me it’s a difficult subject area. This is mainly because Richard was best known to me as the title of a song by Supergrass, and as the King who “won” the Battle of Bosworth Field. That was wholly down to the brilliant sitcom Blackadder, and not to incorrect high school text books. You see, as far as state school’s are concerned, British history starts at Henry VIII (Henry VII if you’re lucky). The motto appears to be “if you can name some of Henry’s six wives, you’ll be fine.”
Despite this lack of 15th century English knowledge, I don’t feel like it has held me back. As far as I’m concerned the most important part of history I studied at school was the 20th century. A part of history that has a large impact on my life. The more lessons we learn from our recent past the better, and as the world shrinks further with every technological advancement, squabbling over ideas of nationality and citizenship on a tiny island is small fry compared to the bigger picture.
That bigger picture will have to wait for another day though, I’m afraid. It’s now time for me to eat grits, chew tobacco and complain about immigration policies to anybody who will listen. It appears some national traits can survive anywhere.