Am I plastic Brit?
In the Daily Mail sense of the word then yes, in many ways I am. I was born in Botswana. My bloodlines are English, Filipino, Irish, Chinese. Apparently, according to my mum, my brother and I even have some Norwegian in us.
My brother J was born in Worksop. Worksop, United Kingdom, Great Britain. J is not a plastic Brit.
It doesn't matter that we have lived the vast majority of our lives here in Great Britain, that we have both been in work since We were both able to, that we support and love our country (and I include Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland in this). It doesn't matter that the government has deemed me fit enough to work, indirectly, for them on two major defence programmes. It doesn't matter that my nephews and nieces were born here, that my sister-in-law in British through and through. It doesn't matter that we've paid taxes, done the right thing, played football, drunk a pint, sung the National Anthem, partaken of much of those things British.
It doesn't matter that the 61 athletes in Team GB wear their uniforms with a pride and a ferocity that the rest of us can only pretend to understand. It doesn't matter that, win or lose, they give their all, in training and competition, testing and pushing their talent and determination to almost impossible lengths, all for their flag, their country, the people around them.
It doesn't matter that they bring inspiration and magic to 62 million Brits every day, whether in the day to day or as a result of their efforts in the Olympics.
It doesn't matter.
What matters is bigotry; that men and women can, from within the hallowed protection of journalism, can run riot with their prejudices, their hatreds, their fears, their contemptible inability to be more than they are.
The sad truth is that Great Britain would be a shallower, smaller, poorer place without the multiplicity of races and cultures that have accreted here over the decades. This has always been its strength, has always been its beauty, that melding of difference, that emulsification of contrasts to make something ever unique, ever renewed.
To paraphrase my tweet on the subject; there are tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of 'plastic Brits' in Great Britain, each of them proving themselves to truer and greater Brits than the small minded bigots of the Daily Mail. Proving it every single day.
The world changes. The world evolves. Cultures change, evolve. And people do too. And for those who don't? Well, they become a minority; strident, vociferous, ever more fearful, ever more extreme. They become pitiful.
I have no time for them. I have time for Britain, and the British, in all their quirks, in all their eccentric ways, in their awkwardness and gentleness, in their savagery and pride, in all their differences. I'm not British because I was born British. I am British because I am proud of much of what this country is, of what it's peoples represent, and are, and may yet become. Isn't that enough?