For the record, I will admit openly I am quite bitter about my mother country. We won't dwell on it, but let's just say if I never see it again, I won't shed any tears. This blog is not about explaining that, but just for now, refer to the title. The England in my heart is in a different time, and it's gone. Move on.
I am what is known as an ex-pat. What's the difference between that and immigrant? None really, it's just a posher term. It carries with it, however, a connotation that the move is temporary, however long. While I would never return to England, unless I was a multi-millionaire, I don't intend to live in Canada for the rest of my life. It's just too cold. That's all. Great place otherwise.
After all these years, have I assimilated? No. The great crime of the ex-pat is that he is always a little island of foreignness wherever he is. He never really becomes a local. Even my son James, who came to Canada a week before his first birthday, identifies as an Englishman. You'd never know; he talks like a Canadian, dresses like a Canadian, eats Canadian food, drinks Canadian beer, and watches hockey. But get him talking and you discover something deep in there that won't ever go away.
So here's what has happened. Over the years I have (not systemically or anything you understand, just at my whim) adopted some North American habits/words/choices, and eschewed others. It's actually really rather wonderful to have multiple cultural influences to select from. I simply pick and choose. I like this, I don't like that. And, the best part is, nobody ever challenges it. If I choose the North American option, they don't even notice. If I choose the English option, they just put it down to me being a foreigner, and leave me to it.
Which leads me to the List of The Chosen Ones. This is a list of those aspects of life that are different either side of the Atlantic, because not everything is, after all, we all call a book a book, the colour red is widely considered to be the same thing, and there's no cross-ocean argument that the first meal of the day is breakfast. In fact a person with more time to spare than me, could probably do some very interesting research on why some things are common to both, while others are very different. I see no pattern to it myself.
So, I have chosen to adopt, because I prefer them, the following North American "things":
Use of the letter z when spelling words ending with the sound "ize". It used to be the preferred choice in Britain too. I would not start spelling all words phonetically, but when the usage is a) traditional, and b) sensible, it wins me over.
Not having a meal called "tea". Because it's silly.
Pronouncing tomato and vitamins as "tomayto" and "vytamins". Even though it's not logical. I like them better.
I have chosen to retain, because I prefer them, the following English "things":
Use of the u in words like colour, honour, neighbour, etc. Partly (but not wholly) because I know the removal of the u in the US dictionaries was a decision by one man - Noah Webster. Not only do I consider this linguistic tyranny, but having discovered that he was a Fundamentalist Christian of the worst kind, and, well...who wants to do what they say?
Laying the table as follows: knife to the right, fork to the left, and a dessert spoon at the top, if dessert is served. Even if I switch to right-handed fork for certain meals, I like it laid this way. I am told that this is also a correct cutlery placement in posher North American society, and that's good enough for me.
Pronouncing the h in herb. Eddie will explain it.
Referring to children's toys as Lego (not Legos), trolls (not troll dolls), Ludo (not Parcheesi), a see-saw (not a teeter-totter).
This list will be added to, this blog will never be finished.