Wednesday, 17 April 2013

British By Marriage

Today is an historic day, and not just because of Lady Thatcher's funeral. As of today, I am officially a subject of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. So I guess I'm no longer "accidentally English" but, instead, "British by marriage." (I'm contemplating making this my new blog name; what do you think?)
With the Mayor of Barnet after the citizenship ceremony
I was one of 32 people from 20 different countries receiving their British citizenship this morning at Hendon Town Hall in North London. The ceremony itself was short (about 30 minutes) and included the Mayor of Barnet giving us a brief address about what a milestone this is for many of us, followed by us making our oath or affirmation and pledge and singing the national anthem. While I have always said that my obtaining citizenship is more of a formality than anything else, it still felt very moving to be in a room with so many people who have worked so hard to be granted this privilege. And it was quite emotional to think about my own journey to this point and the changes that have occurred in my life over the past ten years, even though my road may have been very different from some of the others'. In the end, it wasn't just the piece of paper I thought it would be; it was an affirmation of my allegiance to my family.

The day didn't exactly go according to plan. I took the whole day off of work, as did The Other Half, and our intention was to attend the ceremony together this morning without the girls, who would be at nursery and with the childminder, and then take the opportunity to go for a sort of celebratory lunch; time to ourselves is a rarity these days, and the girls (especially Cupcake) are still a little too young to understand the importance of the occasion. We would end the day with tea and cake at home once we picked up the girls this afternoon. But our household has been invaded by a nasty bug this week, and this morning The Other Half woke up its latest victim, so at the last minute -- with no time to reschedule -- I ended up setting off on my own. He was really disappointed, but what can you do. Hearing that I was alone, my mother-in-law, bless her, rushed out to meet me at the town hall so I would at least have someone there to support me. I told The Other Half he can make it up to me another time. I think I struck fear in his heart when I told him to "surprise me."

When I showed Crumpet my commemorative photo of the event (as if the £851 I spent applying for citizenship wasn't enough, they managed to fleece another £10 out of me for the photo, but I suppose it is a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing, so I coughed it up) and explained to her what it meant, she said, "Next time when we go to America you have to tell your mummy and daddy that you're half British now." Indeed (as if they didn't already know).
Hendon Town Hall