I’ll be honest. I used to hate living in the UK. I hated the greyness and the monotony and what I thought of as a lack of culture, a disregard for the beautiful things in life. I had this misguided romantic notion that I should have been born elsewhere and that I was destined to spend my days bathed in sunlight on a Spanish plaza. But travelling to other countries, seeing where they’re failing and also spending some time living abroad – in the US and in Dubai – have given me a renewed appreciation for Great Britain and everything that makes this nation what it is.
In New York, I despaired at the poor mental health provisions and the dodgy wiring. In Dubai, I hated that there were certain things I had to be careful about that I’d never have to worry about back home. In Thailand, I noticed the odd smells and in Italy, I got frustrated that absolutely nothing happens on time.
Don’t get me wrong, travelling is absolutely one of the best things you can do with your youth and I loved a million different things about each of the 35+ countries I’ve visited so far, but with travel comes awakening. Every place I’ve been has made me appreciate something new about home, and for that I’m very thankful. In a way, it’s one of the greatest gifts my adventures have given me.
And so, Great Britain, this is my ode to you as I settle back down to life here.
Dear Great Britain, let me count the ways that I love you
I love you for your regal old buildings and breathtaking countryside, best viewed from a train window with an array of M&S snacks on the tray table before me.
I love you for your iconic pubs, your leading role in the worldwide music scene and your edgy street style. I love that most of the books I studied at university were written here.
I love you because girls will run up to you on the high street to ask where you got your shoes, old ladies will chat to you at the bus stop and old men will sing jovial ditties at you in the street.
I love that the Shambles in York make me feel like I’m in Harry Potter and how the Liver buildings in Liverpool look as the boat sails in from Isle of Man and the way Edinburgh Castle sits jauntily on its craggy rock. I love strolling past Buckingham Palace and walking along the Tyne and clattering across the cobbles in Manchester. I’ve never been to anyplace in Wales or to Brighton or to basically anywhere Down South that isn’t London, and I love that one day I’ll get to discover what I like about all of those places.
I love the myriad of local accents and dialects and the friendly but poignant rivalry between North and South. I love that when I speak in my accent abroad, people get excited.
I love that every single evening the nation congregates in front of their tellies to watch people sip fake pints in The Rovers and The Queen Vic.
I love that you can be sat telling someone that you’ve just had the Worst Day Of Your Life and they’ll look at you for a moment and then say, “Hold on, I’ll stick the kettle on.” I love that a few sips of piping hot Tetleys really can soothe your soul.
I love that when London was attacked recently, people risked their lives to help each other and one Lad refused to put down his pint while he escaped the scene.
I love that police were filmed dancing and skipping with kids at the One Love Manchester concert.
I feel a weird sense of pride that our national security may be under massive threat, but we’re all just sat in the pub going, “ISIS eh? What a bunch of c*nts.” It’s no laughing matter, but only us Brits can reduce absolute evil to a laughing stock with our strange sense of humour, and I love us for it.
I love the NHS and fish n’ chips by the sea and that rosy feeling your face gets when you walk outside in the winter.
I love that the minute the sun comes out we commence a strict diet of BBQ-ed meats, fruit cider and ice lollies and I take great pride in the fact that we’ll have a drink in the airport because we’re ‘on holiday’, even if it’s 7am and we’re still hungover from the drinks we had while packing the night before.
I love that we’ll never be stuck for conversation when we first meet someone, because there’s always the weather.
I love friendly folk working on public transport and taxi drivers with good banter. I love that we have Facebook groups where people rate each other’s Meal Deal combos and Twitter accounts for Scottish jokes and absolutely nobody but us will get it.
I love that our go-to activity when we’re trying to be fancy is Afternoon Tea and all of the Prosecco.
I love when you go home and make a cameo appearance on your hometown’s night-out scene and bump into the people you got drunk with for the first time in your teens.
I love how passionate we are about what constitutes a proper roast and whether cream or jam should go on a scone first.
Britain, I bloody love ya. It’s good to be home.