When I first arrived on these American shores, whenever I filled in a form that required my nationality, I always put England. The man always crossed it out and put United Kingdom. I kept this up for about ten years before I finally tired of being a rebel without a point and conformed.
When I started my new job inside NASA Ames Research Park, I had to get an ID card and filled in (after 20 years, I still can’t bring myself to say filled out) the usual forms. Beaten down by years of conformity, I put United Kingdom for my place of birth. The man took my form and typed it into the computer.
There was no United Kingdom on his list so the man picked England instead. I glowed with pride.
It’s a confusing topic but, fortunately, C.G.P. Grey has explained it all neatly for you.
It’s not generally true, BTW, that all the countries hate each other. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland mostly hate England with historically good reasons, but the reverse is not generally true. Most Englishmen of my acquaintance are quite fond of the sheep-abusers and happy to share a flag with them (sorry, Wales).
One inconvenient fact destroys C.G.P.’s neat explanation though: Why is Northern Island part of Team GB in the olypmics? *shrug* I don’t know either (they are actually entitled to compete with either GB or the Republic of Ireland) but they are not entirely happy about it.
A related thought: I consider it exceedingly odd how most immigrants to these beautiful shores are eager to trade in their Green Card for a blue passport as fast as they are able but so many Englishmen of my acquaintance resist the charms of American citizenship. I’ve compared notes with several of my English friends and we mostly (not unanimously) agree that it just feels deeply wrong to take dual citizenship. A betrayal of something or other that we can’t quite verbalize.
A long time ago, I thought I was ready to take the plunge and made a rash promise: if 1) Obama ran for president and 2) got elected and 3) didn’t suck, I’d vote for his re-election. Two out of three ain’t bad but that last one was pretty important to me so I’ll pass for now, thanks.
Come on England, er, Team GB!