Monday, 16 February 2009

important bits of English culture

Before we moved here we did quite a lot of thinking about the ways in which the boys would be exposed to a new culture and how that might affect them. One of the things we hadn't really thought about before we moved to Bosnia was how the boys would be affected in terms of absorbing English culture.

Some things are no different: we have bought/had sent out enough tea bags to sink a Boston tea ship. The number of CBeebies DVDs that we have here would start a library of their own and I don't think they would be watching anything different if we were in the UK. The toy shops in Bosnia sell all the same sort of stuff - we've found great jigsaws, transformers, Thomas the Tank Engine kit, you name it really. I think they'll have enough cultural references with their peers to not make a difference on their return.

But this weekend I started to wonder about how we will build their cultural identity. This weekend was a big rugby weekend in the UK. England were playing Wales, which is an enormous match at the best of times, particular so this year. If we'd been in the UK we would probably have gone round to someones house and watched it on TV - the adults all participating in that time honoured past-time of shouting really loudly at the TV as England promise much and then proceed to throw it all away.

We looked around for people to watch it with, but for some extraordinary reason the game was not on Bosnian TV and noone wanted to watch it with us. We managed to access it via the Internet and D and I watched it on the computer, shouting at the screen as England adhered to form; promised much, threw it all away.

Adam was intrigued by this new routine and wanted to watch. But it became very evident that he had no idea what he was looking at. I realised that he didn't know what the English flag looked like, what our national anthem was, what colours the English play in. He doesn't know of our ancient sporting rivalries, the matches that have a little extra needle. As long as we remain here they won't be exposed to the English national games of rugby and cricket. He will see a lot of football, but he'll believe that the team he should support wears blue (although coming from a family of Chelsea supporters this is probably not such a bad step).

This got me thinking. Maybe we would be doing them a favour. Maybe a life spent not being constantly disappointed by the English teams performance (in football, rugby, cricket, insert name of sport here) would be preferable. But hours spent shouting at a TV screen as England collapse yet again is such an integral part of being English we need to ensure they are exposed to this. The next big rugby game is in 2 weekends time and we shall be watching it, teaching the boys to shout 'come on England' and sing the national anthem.

That said, the Bosnian football team are known for promising much only to spectacularly fail to deliver. Not so different really.

1 comment:

WeDoAdventure said...

great post. one of our co-workers here is Welsh and seriously into rugby, so things should be interesting/unbearable when we see him tomorrow morning!