Wednesday, 11 November 2009
I’m going home on Friday. As an English girl, even after 12 years of living in Denmark, I still refer to England as 'home'.
I’m going to London to spend time with some very good girlfriends and I am so excited. I’m also looking forward to the precious 'me' time that comes so rarely when I get away without children.
Imagine, flying on my own for once! I’ll be able to read my book, plug in my headphones and not worry about small feet kicking the seat in front. It won’t be me having to ensure that everyone has drinks, snacks, books, snacks, toys, been to the toilet, clean nappies, and did I mention snacks? And there’ll be the added bonus of other people’s kids crying on the aeroplane not bothering me one bit – I’ll be able to shut it out because it won’t be my responsibility (or I suppose I could offer a sympathetic smile and help to reach the overhead locker).
Once in London, I am going to be such a tourist. It has been ages since I was there last and I am looking forward to drinks and eats in Soho and a stroll through Camden. We’re even going to make it to a show.
I intend to do some serious shopping. Of course, I’ll hopefully make it past Selfridges and maybe even Harvey Nics. But I’m also going to be sure to stock up on the ordinary English things that I miss in Denmark: Tate and Lyle’s Golden Syrup, self-raising flour, proper teabags, salt and vinegar crisps, Marks and Spencer’s underwear, and pretty much everything from Boots. I’ll have to pop into WHSmith’s just to breathe in all the magazines.
These things sound trivial. And they are. In the big scheme of things I happily live without all of them. But they remind me of my roots. Perhaps it is only something you can appreciate if you have been away for a while, but if you grew up in England, you can take any boring high street and there’ll be something that reminds you about your teenage years. It might be the local pub, HMV, or the pick ‘n’ mix at Woolworths (err, sorry, no-one can have that one anymore). I know that this probably doesn’t say anything good about the generic nature of the British high street, but it’s the memories associated with these things that are worthwhile.
However, regardless of my ingrained 'Englishness' and my desire for some good old-fashioned fish and chips, when I am back in England I actually feel quite foreign. I can’t remember the queuing etiquette or the correct way to fill out a lottery ticket. I haven’t a clue what’s going on in X-Factor or Come Dancing. I don’t know the right way to use the word minger and I am not 100% sure who all the politicians are anymore. And, after years of getting used to the Danish non-existent customer-service experience, I get quite startled if anyone in a shop actually speaks to me.
So, at the end of the weekend, when I reluctantly say goodbye to my girlfriends, I will again be able to happily say that I am going 'home'; back to Copenhagen and all the familiar things that I have, despite myself, become accustomed to there.