IT TOOK ME EIGHT YEARS of living in America. New Zealand only took five. In Japan I never bothered. In Britain it just happened, and in Ireland, well, my dad helped out.
I’m British — English by birth, northern by the grace of God, my national identity is a complex thing. My passport –no longer the magnificent navy-blue thing with the hard covers and the cutouts on the front for the name and the passport number, no longer the unmistakable British passport, although it still carries the demand that “Her Britannic Majesty’s Secretary of State Requests and requires in the Name of Her Majesty all those whom it may concern to allow the bearer to pass freely without let or hindrance” — calls me a British citizen, to distinguish me from British subjects, British nationals (overseas), and Lord knows how many subtle gradations of Britishness and Johnny Foreigner-ness. So I suppose that’s who I am. Certainly that’s what I sound like; as soon as I open my mouth and the Coronation Street vowels tumble out, I couldn’t possibly be from anywhere else.