My mother is English, English like a rose or Yorkshire pudding, (sorry about the comparison) so English that if you cut her in half she would, like a stick of rock have GB written all the way through her!
My father is French - as french as garlic Maurice Chevalier or vin ordinaire although there is nothing ordinary about mon pere. By his parentage he is actually French/Italian.
During my childhood and teenage years, we lived in England, briefly in France and Spain and we emigrated to Canada and then Mexico. When I left school at 16 in England I went to the States to school in upstate New York for about a year, staying with family friends. I have lived in southern England, but more recently in the North 8 miles from the Scottish border.
My parents, after several more adventures and sojourns in France, Cornwall and Mexico have settled comfortably in Kent, which I guess if you twisted my arm I would call 'home'. But the truth is, I never have felt that I belong anywhere. I've been to school in four different countries, in Canada I adjusted quickly but after a year we moved to Mexico and I had to learn the language and participate in the morning lessons with kids three years younger. When I came back to the UK I was nearly two years behind, and it took me a good while to fit in. My husband and I have moved home seven times, as I get to that stage of feeling comfortable and I get a whiff of belonging, we move. Of course I am happy where my husband and kids are, but I live 400 miles away from my parents and I often feel isolated here, not geographically, but it's more an emotional isolation and I think its something only I can figure out.
When we were younger we kids always knew we could represent either Britain or France if we became sportsmen - we didn't- and as a child I did support England over France in the Footie world cup or tennis or eurovision song contest! But as I've grown older, and my links have naturally loosened, as they do when you leave home and make your own way in life. I've been drawn more to things French, the culture, the landscape, the people, thinking about my early french experiences and memories. Often we only realise the value of family as we get older and I have sometimes thought I should have explored the option of dual nationality but as with so many things put the thought away for another day.
Well I think that day may have arrived. I have been in contact with the French Embassy in London, and have found out my father registered all his children's births with the Etat civil. Mum tells me he made special trips to London to do this after each of us were born. I was touched to learn this and it also tells me that it must be important to my father.
So, 'Mlle. Marie' at the embassy has confirmed that I can still, even though I am married and hold a UK passport, claim my french citizenship and apply for a French passport. The extraordinary thing is that I can't tell you how it makes me feel and how excited I am about this on several levels. My father knows nothing about this, indeed I can't recall his ever mentioning it bar once in passing that it was an entitlement and he won't know about it until if and when I have a French passport in my hand to show him, I can't wait to see his face. As an adult I have never felt completely English. When I'm filling in forms and am asked my nationality or ethnicity or ethnic origin, I always want to write European, which doesn't exist as a category, so I write British, but always reluctantly as it's not quite right for me! This does not diminish myEnglishness at all in fact I think it enhances it. Gosh aren't we complicated creatures!
This isn't yet a done deal, but looks very promising and it has helped me to sort out my thoughts and feelings which is a huge bonus! Of course now this may make life more complicated, as I could exit the country on UK passport and enter on french ... which is rather silly l know, but funny!
I will keep you posted...
Ethnicity -ethnic traits, background, allegiance, or association
Ethnic origin - belonging to or deriving from cultural, racial, religious or linguistic traditions of a people or country