Two interesting emails from two different readers provoked by my Christmas-day postings:

"I enjoyed the account of your Christmas Day and wanted to contribute to the Scots/English debate, I am half-and-half with a with a Jewish great-grandfather. My grandparents came to London from Glasgow a hundred years ago and they were keen, lifelong Conservatives, in fact my Grandmother worked at the Party headquarters. My grandparents belonged to some society for Scots in London where my grandfather played the piano for Scottish songs and dances, there was a party at Halloween for the grandchildren and New Year's Eve was celebrated in the usual way. However, apart from my grandmother sighing over us grandchildren as "Sassenachs" because we ate our porridge with sugar and my granfather telling me about the Auld Alliance with France and pointing out the French origin of some Scots words "a silver tassie" for a silver cup for example, I don't remember any expressions of Scottish nationalism.

The bad thing about Scotland was the lack of economic opportunity and it was for work that my grandfather came to live in London.

I would say that my family felt they had certain advantages over the English because we are by nature more intelligent, more industrious and have better values! Having married a half Franch-Canadian and lived in Quebec before the "Silent Revolution"I would say my family's sense of being separate from the English was quite different from the French Canadian "distinct society" identity.

Incidentally, I often pretend to be a "kiwi" here in eastern Canada, as my "cut-glass" English accent is resented and Canadians don't have a good enough ear to hear the dufference. An actor friend tutored me in "Canadian English" but although I made some changes in my pronunciation and vocabulary I was always found out!"

The misspelling of "dufference" above will be understood by anybody who has ever heard New Zealanders speak. They are the only significant European nation to have lost a whole vowel in recent times. Regarding Scotland, readers might also find some relevance in the latest series of jokes up on Wicked Thoughts. Anyway, the second email:

"As a UK resident I found the Queen's Christmas speech quite depressing. I have never been a fan of her Xmas speeches and this was the first I had heard for several years. It sounded as though it might have been written by Cherie Blair or a BBC journalist. Bland, full of phoney re-assurance and pointless.

Of course the ethnic communities shown would seem respectable rather as red carpets are rolled out for members of the royal family. In recent elections the British National Party received up to a third of the vote in parts of the Black Country and elsewhere. Perhaps these voters see a less sanitised version of developments.

I believe most British people welcome the more cosmopolitan changes in the population in recent decades but not the mass take over of our major cities by Muslim immigrants, which seems demographically inevitable on present trends".

I can certainly understand the final point above

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