On Being a Londoner in a Multicultural City, And Why The Anglo-Saxon Race Doesn’t Even Exist
I’m a Londoner. But am I ‘British’ ? ‘Anglo-Saxon’ ? No. My genealogy is Irish, so am I ‘Celtic’ ? No.
I’m European. Well, that’s Science for you, always delivering the result you don’t expect.
Because the Anglo-Saxon race, like the Celtic race, no longer exists.
And yet, in my schooldays the history of ‘England’ — if not of the whole of Britain — had been about this mythical ‘Anglo-Saxon Race’. I was taught about the Celts (for about five minutes, I think. And the Danes, for maybe a lesson or two. And the Normans, that might have taken a week.
But it was always the ‘Anglo-Saxons’ held up to be our *cough* ‘Heritage’. Well, I have bad news for you : they were mostly eradicated half a millenium ago, and most of our heritage and culture comes from a handful of European locations : Angles, Saxons, Danes, Celtic, populated Britain for a thousand years. In Norman times, came the Italian merchants, then the Flemish and Franks. They stayed. In recent times, the Irish, Jews, Asians and Caribbeans have come, mainly by invitation, and done the same.
London is not just a multicultural city NOW — it has been for well over five hundred years.
Get over it.
And even the much vaunted Anglo-Saxon ‘bloodline’ is a myth; Northern Britain is more Danish and Celtic; In the South our remaining Anglo-Saxon ‘ancestry’ barely makes a dent. If you think you’re Anglo-Saxon, you may as well try to claim ‘ancestry’ from the Island of Atlantis. Or Narnia.
We are, quite simply, a nation of European immigrants with new bloodlines being constantly added. An ocean fed by countless rivers. A banquet, constantly replenished.
You know what a Londoner is ? Someone who was born here. Of any race, colour or faith. Even Cockneys referred to ‘those born within hearing distance of Bow bells’ without reference to any other factor.
I look at the generation of young people in their twenties that I often work with, and all of them — black, white, asian, or a blend of all three and more — have the same accent, the same sports teams and rivalries, often the same Londoner humour. They’re all Londoners.
I always knew I was of immigrant stock, but it turns out that pretty much everyone else is too.