Tuesday, 29 December 2009

30 years in the U.K.


This day comes around every year and it is a day when I give myself permission to reflect on coming to the U.K. and staying here. I never intended to emigrate here permanently when I arrived 30 years ago today but here I still am.

The day itself seems at the same time like a day that happened to someone else long ago and yet also like it took place yesterday. Of course it did happen to someone else. The someone else I used to be and she was a very different person from who I am today, quite apart from my different nationality now. I've grown older and hopefully a bit wiser but I have also become a lot more British than I ever used to be Dutch. It happened almost imperceptibly over the years.

Technically I became officially British in 1984 (5 years after I arrived) but becoming British is not simply a matter of what your passport states about your nationality.

Some weeks ago I read an old issue of Newsweek magazine (at the dentist!) and in it I found a very appropriate quote which I scribbled in my notebook. It said: The Dutch are too honest to be polite and the British are too polite to be honest. And that is when it struck me. I do find most Dutch people too much in your face and indeed sometimes amazingly rude and the reason for this is that I have become used to the most more civilised way British people use in their social contact with each other. Where once when I first arrived, I used to think before I said anything here in the U.K. so as not to upset people with my directness, now the round about polite chit chat prevalent in British conversations comes naturally to me and I prefer it. It might not always be honest but it's soothing to the soul!

My English is also so much better than my Dutch which I hardly ever use and of course I have been speaking English for a longer period in my life than I used to speak Dutch. As this Journal Quilt made in 2005 states: The past is a foreign country. And in my case that is really a fact. I never had any regrets about this life-changing move. Firstly life really is too short for regrets. You simply make your decisions and right or wrong, you have to reconcile yourself to live with the consequences of your decisions otherwise you make your own life very difficult and secondly I love my life here. I'm deeply attached to the place where I live and I feel that the roots I have been putting down are going ever deeper into the ground!
Despite this I will also always be connected to the place of my birth, which you can see surrounded by beads in a detail of the Journal Quilt. But it is in a strange country far into the past! I don't miss it and I no longer feel at home there.

3 comments:

Tristan Robin Blakeman said...

I didn't know you were Dutch! You do seem teddibly teddibly British to me!

This piece is so intriguing ... I assume it's a small journal piece? Have you thought of doing a large piece with the same sentiment? I think everybody can relate. Even if one hasn't changed countries and citizenship, we have a strong link to the place we first lived on earth.

Lenna Andrews said...

dear Frieda, i loved reading this entry and seeing your fabric art related to this special day. Congratulations on emigrating, embracing, enduring, and having no regrets! You are a smart & talented British woman with Dutch heritage! Enjoy your roots in Beautiful Scotland. xo lenna

Ati. said...

A very nice quiltie Frieda and I can get with you thoughts and feelings. So much is changed in the Netherlands! I am 8 years in Norway now and will not go back either.
Wishing you a very happy new year!

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