Thursday, December 13, 2007


I went, I swore, I got my citizenship certificate. The high point of the ceremony was when we all had to stand up in turn and say "I, Gianna Masetti", "I, John Doe", etc. then wait to repeat together the rest of the formula. There was a lady who kept repeating "I, Council of Lewisham", "I, Lewisham Council?", "I... I... Council!" with increasing panic in her voice. I wonder if it was just stage fright or a complete lack of basic English skills. Or maybe it was just her name, by an uncanny coincidence.
Apart from that, the council staff performing the ceremony had that uniquely British brand of cheerfulness that reminded me of that Life of Brian's scene where they line up prisoners. "Good morning! Crucifixion? Jolly good! Out of the door. Line on the left. One cross each. Next please! Crucifixion? Splendid! Out of the door. Line on the left. One cross each."
They even had balloons, red white and blue, and a table of refreshments that I didn't try because a very large, angry woman stabbed me in the back with a plastic fork to get to the food (I couldn't move because there was a small kid in front of me stuffing his face with scotch eggs straight from the tray).
I didn't even complain to her because most of the people seemed to speak no English, despite the fact that you need to pass a written test before the ceremony, where you show your knowledge of Britishness answering questions like "Who is the patron saint of Wales?" and "From what countries did bus drivers come to England in the Fifties?". If I ran a pub I'd ask these questions at quiz night and I'm willing to bet that most born and bred Brits wouldn't have a clue.
Now I can apply for a passport, but I'm told that before they give it to me I'll have to go to yet another interview, where I will have to demonstrate that I am in fact myself. I hope that they don't go for a philosophical angle. "Good morning. Sit down. Tea, coffee? OK, to start let's define the concept of "self", shall we? Consciousness constitutes the reflected or relational level of the spirit, the level of its appearance. The self is the infinite relation of the spirit to itself but a subjective relation, as self-certainty. As this absolute negativity it is identity in its otherness; the self is itself and..."