For people who have lived all their life in the one country, and whose ancestors did the same, the question of where "home" is is a simple one: Right here where I am! However, in a world where immigration is increasingly common, the answer is not always so simple. In the most obvious case, where a person has immigrated to a new country as an adult, "home" is often two places, and their divided loyalty is likely to stay with them until they die.
A rather more subtle question, is the case of a person who was born and grew up in one country, but who's parents or other ancestors were born elsewhere. Such a person absorbs another country's culture through his parents or ancestors at the same time as he absorbs the culture of the country he lives in. If he takes the foreign culture seriously he may feel divided loyalty and he may wonder where his home really is. The only cure for such a person is to visit the land of his ancestors and find out the answer for himself.
In my case, my father was born and raised in England, and although he made no effort to indoctrinate "Englishness" into us, it was inevitable that some culture would leak through. Furthermore, my distant ancestors on my mother's side all came from other countries: Scotland and Wales as well as England, and I felt a sense of allegiance to those countries as well. But how real was that allegiance? Perhaps I was just indulging in a romantic vision.
Well I HAD to find out, so eventually I found the money and made the journey. The answer was pretty much as you might expect... and in fact it is what I DID expect. However, it's one thing to expect an answer, it's quite another thing to KNOW!
I got on a plane in two thousand and ten, that took me half way round the Earth,
My charge: Ascertain, what bonds might remain, in the land of my ancestors' birth.
I knew all their names and the towns they came from, and historical paraphernalia,
But what did this bring? Did it mean anything, to W Mars from Australia?
I visited London, it quite blew my mind, for the grandeur and pomp are there still.
When you're there you can gauge, the Victorian age, when the British were top of the hill.
But I found as I walked, that the people were cold, despite all their fancy regalia,
And the feeling was clear: I'm a foreigner here. This isn't like home in Australia.
I went up to Derby and thence to Ockbrook, saw the house where my father grew up,
And I met Auntie Peg, and we drank from the keg, and I sang her my take on the Tup1.
Then my cousin took me into Nottingham town, and we fairly were graced there by Thalia2.
A pleasant debut, but I had more to do, before I returned to Australia.
I journeyed to Scarborough, to soak up the sights, of this famed beauty spot by the sea.
But the old Norman fort, and the charms of the Port, I'm afraid were quite ruined for me.
Surrounded by chip stands and fatties and dogs, in this English vacation centralia,
With arrogant face, no respect for the place; a nightmare for one from Australia.
Then off up to Scotland, where always I'd felt, an allegiance both ancient and strong,
In Edinburgh braw, I walked 'round in awe, as though I were inside a song.
And then I went out on the great Royal Mile, for a wonderful night's bacchanalia,
But though I declare, that I loved being there, it could never be quite like Australia.
I went to the highlands, and drank from a burn, on Jura I climbed up a Pap3.
In the Hebrides clime, I had a great time: to the Ileach4 I doff my tweed cap.
On the field of Culloden I felt it well up: the sadness of Scotland's great failure,
Whatever we do, what e'er may ensue, may that ne'er befall us in Australia.
Then down in North Wales, my heart sang to hear, the "hen iaith y Cymru"5 in flower.
For the "Croeso!"6 embrace, in Caernarfon place, I say verily: "Diolch yn fawr!"7.
And I climbed up Mt Snowdon and tasted the mist, of a landscape devoid of azalea,
Though it's charms are first rate, still it isn't as great, as the Alps of South-Eastern Australia.
In my need to absorb from my Welsh forebear's town, I to Abergavenny did roam,
And in all Britain's land, though more pretty or grand, there was nowhere I felt more at home.
Yes, I sang with the locals and drank The Black Rat8, something you'll never find in Vidalia9,
And we had quite a ball: they were fine people all, but I had to get back to Australia.
Though I didn't get homesick, and had so much fun, and intend to return there some day,
Though it's grand and it's fair and I've relatives there, yet I never once wanted to stay.
It's a mystery to me how so many ex-pats, can suck up the Pom's glossolalia,
When here every day, you can hear the ballet, of the wonderful speech of Australia.
And where is the garbling of magpies at dawn? and the scent of the eucalypt trees?
Where's the light and the heat? the silos of wheat? the beaches and warm inland breeze?
Where are the wallabies, spiders and snakes, and all our superb animalia?
I now know for me, that the best place to be, is right here at home in Australia.
Warren Mars - February 2011