Andrew Ian Dodge
I may come from a different perspective as I am not English or even British. I am American. I am an American who has probably spent more of his life being exposed to the English and Englishness than ever I have been to Americans. This was especially true during my school years.
My first three years of education were in Manorbier in Pembrokeshire, Little England beyond Wales. I was taught the Queen’s English and my three Rs in a manner that was probably no longer used in England proper and all by an excellent English teacher from London. It would be fair to say that the reason I am a writer is because of the first three years of my education in a two-room schoolhouse. I am proud to say that many years later I visited my teacher to give her credit for my chosen path. My exposure to Englishness did not end when I left Pembrokeshire. I moved with my family to Honduras where I spent my time around English expats and their families. A move north to Miami brought me long friendship with an English-Jamaican family. And during all this time, my family took me back to Britain nearly every year during the summer hols.
Consequently as soon as I was an adult, I endeavoured to spend as much time in England as possible. Its weather suited my constitution along with the beer and English women. I am not quite sure what it is but the water in the North of England lends itself to making the best ale in the world. Culturally I was attracted to the UK because of the great writers it has produced from Shakespeare to William Blake. The music enthralled me and it still does. Iron Maiden, Deep Purple, Thunder or Black Sabbath. I would dare not try to count the genres of music that have emanated from this small country (the size of my home state of Maine).
My politics too sprang from this isle. I am a libertarian inspired by the great post-enlightenment thinkers who earlier inspired my country’s revolution. The filter that was English political thought took the ideas of the Greeks, the French enlightenment and turned them into something special. My recent inspirations range from Winston Churchill to Margaret Thatcher. Men and women of determination are always welcome here in the political realm and none more than these two.
As to the daily joys, it may seem a bit twee that I think of warm flat bitter ale, drizzle, loud music and good women when I think of England. But these are what so enthralls me about the country. So enamoured am I with all these, but especially of one British woman, that I have married my own English Rose and we have settled in North London.
Some may say the England I admire no longer exists, that I am a nostalgic old fool. I would respectfully disagree. I would reply that all those things I admire are still here under the surface of the froth, political correctness and heat that is modern politics and culture. It’s all there if you know where to look.
England still enthralls, inspires, fascinates and infuriates in equal measure. Long may it remain the source for all those emotions. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Andrew Ian Dodge is the blogger behind Dodgeblogium.