My uncle, aunt and their two children were living in London for a while in the early 1980’s, as I entered my teen years. I visited them for a couple of weeks once, and vaguely remember Madame Tussaud and a place that had lots of tennis courts next to each other. I don’t know where in London that was, but I have always imagined that it was connected to the place where the famous Wimbledon tournament is played. This is unfortunately my only visit to the British Isles. Nevertheless, I’m a major anglophile. I have always wanted to go there, but so far it’s been financially impossible.
These islands have produced some of the greatest literary treasures in Europe. I still enjoy childhood favourites like The Borrowers, The Jungle Book, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Lord of the Rings, Alice in Wonderland, and Oliver Twist. I later discovered Jane Austen, E.M. Forster, H. G. Wells, Agatha Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle, and lots more. British TV have made some of my favourite entertainment. I have fond memories of Jeremy Brett and Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes, Joan Hickson and Margaret Rutherford as Miss Marple, and David Suchet as Hercule Poirot. I later enjoyed shows like Foyle’s War, Primeval, Doctor Who, and Sherlock just to mention a few. I enjoy some of these low cost productions far better than films made by major film studios.
America has always had a special ring to Norwegians, which isn’t surprising as a big part of our population emigrated there in the past. I have felt like that about Britain and British culture, which makes just as much sense historically. Modern DNA-tests have revealed that Norwegian vikings didn’t just raid and retreat, but settled in Britain, particularly in Cumbria, Shetland, the Orkneys, and far north on the Scottish mainland. I have mixed emotions about the political situation in Britain at the moment. The EU position seems to be anger, something like this: How dare you want independence? How dare you leave us?
Independence could be very good for Britain in the long run, but I don’t see why they can’t be British and European at the same time. Other EU-governments seem to suggest that any country that leaves the union must be treated as an enemy. Why do you have to be a member of the EU to have a place in Europe? Suddenly the EU doesn’t seem that friendly. I don’t know what will happen, but it would be nice if Norway and Britain strengthened the ties that seems like nothing more than a distant memory today.
I have dreamt about travelling across England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland + Ireland. An extended stay in Britain is also on my bucket list. I haven’t been able to afford trips out of the country for almost two decades, and it doesn’t look like it will happen anytime soon, but I hope to get a chance later. I am fascinated by America too, especially New England, but most of the time it’s the original England I think about. It may be just a fantasy. The England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland + Ireland I think about only exists in books and films, but I still want to see the people and the country that produced these wonderful stories.
I may very well do the same as Americans who believe that a welfare state is the same as communism or that it snows most of the time here. Just for the record, I know people in the English countryside don’t wipe out the whole village because of some century old land dispute or flower competition (Midsomer Murders), and I am sure Scotland Yard can manage very well without Poirot and Holmes. Reading British literature makes me hungry because there is a lot of food there, but if I went to England and asked people on the street, I would probably find that most of them didn’t eat Lancashire hotpot, steak and kidney pudding, and that the Scots didn’t eat much haggis. It’s the same in Norway. Even Norwegians don’t think there is any good Norwegian food because we hardly ever eat it.