Please, where is it that I live?

When I lived in the US, I had no trouble finding my country in a drop down list. It was always under the letter “U”. Similarly, if I was looking to convert currency, I knew I was looking for “USD” or “US dollars”. Here it’s not so easy. I’ve been stuck at check-in kiosks at the airport with no idea what my three letter country code was (GBR, in case you wondered–the kiosk helpfully mentioned that it was not UK but left me to come up with GBR on my own!) Today it happened again, and I found myself completely flummoxed at the website for the Economist, where they were running a poll on how the rest of the world would vote in the US election. You had to select your country first, and since I was thinking of myself according to where I live now, not from where I hail originally, I was looking to see what the other people in England thought. So I dropped the list down to “U” looking for UK, nothing. OK, that happens sometimes, try “G” for Great Britain. Nope. Nothing. “E” for England was also blank. And now I started to panic. The Economist is published HERE, wherever we are, why can’t I find us on the list? Tried E, G and U all again–figured I just accidentally skipped over it–but when I still couldn’t find anything I started to just read the whole list. Eventually I found us under “B” for Britain (and it took a while because I had just re-visited “U” and was coming up the list in reverse). Seriously, Britain? That is NOT what you would write on an envelope if you wanted a letter to reach me here… I give up, I clearly don’t know where I live (although I do know it’s not the U.S.A.)

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8 responses to “Please, where is it that I live?

  1. You’re right. We’re hopeless about our identity. Even most Brits don’t know the difference between the UK and GB. I only do because someone from Northern Ireland told me ages ago (it’s the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, so UK includes N Ireland, and GB doesn’t). And why we always have to be “Great” I don’t know. Very arrogant. Must stem from our empire days.

    A lot of English people say “England” when they mean “Britain”, or “English” when they mean “British”. I only discovered this when I went to live in Scotland, and found myself guilty of it.

  2. Glad you enjoyed Brighton, by the way (my brother lives there). How was the wedding?

  3. It is Great Britain presumably to distinguish it from Brittany (Grand Bretagne vs Bretagne in French) – so goes a lot further back than Empire.

    NFAH – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terminology_of_the_British_Isles has a Euler diagram clarifying the terminology.

  4. Chris, if you look on that diagram, nowhere does it say just “Britain”… I had memorized when I first moved here “The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland” to keep this all straight but I don’t know how to reconcile that with the side point on Wikipedia, “Britain is widely used as a political synonym for the United Kingdom.” I’ve lived here nearly two years and had no idea.

  5. Identity crisis!!

    ps: can someone please sort out wether we are imperial or metric here? The constant flip flopping does my head in!

  6. Sarah: Progress on metrication is being made. The Lsd system of money is almost gone – the last vestiges of the system are prizes for horse racing in guineas, and bob-a-job week for scouts (no doubt considered too dangerous these days).

  7. No, I’m with Sarah. Distances in miles and pints of milk and beer. It’s still a pretty mixed bag.

  8. Pingback: And not all Americans are the same either! « Not From Around Here

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