I am ready!
I am ready to become a ‘good citizen’ of Britain, and I have a piece of paper to prove it.
Following weeks of diligent study, during which I worked hard to memorise important dates and events in British history, I was finally going to take the Life in the UK test, which I must pass to be eligible to apply for British citizenship.
Armed with a head full of facts about the Battle of Hastings, the significance of the Magna Carta, the details of the 1689 Bill of Rights, the six wives of Henry VIII, and having memorised which King Charles hid in an oak tree (the second one, of course), I made my way across London to the test centre in Stratford where I’d booked my appointment.
On arrival, I was promptly warned of the dire consequences of cheating and had my pockets, boots and glasses inspected, in case I’d tried to hide a mobile phone or cheat sheet. Even the crumpled, half-used, Kleenex tissue in my jeans pocket had to be examined.
Satisfied that I was who I claimed to be, I was shown into a cramped, airless room filled with rows of computers. It was time to take the test.
I needn’t have worried about which wives Henry the VIII divorced or had executed, but it was fortunate I’d paid attention to 11th-century British history, and that I knew the first verse of God Save the Queen. Otherwise, I might not have known she’s both ‘noble’ and ‘gracious’. And after almost twenty years in Britain, how could I not know who Edward Elgar was, even if I’ve never attended Last Night of the Proms?
Out of the 24 questions that popped up on the screen, only one made me wobble:
What was the name of the huge building in Hyde Park in which the 1851 Great Exhibition was opened?
- The Crystal Palace
- The Dream Palace
- The Golden Palace
- The Oriental Palace
I wavered between Crystal and Oriental but settled on the former.
I don’t mean to brag, but I think I aced the test, though the computer that calculates your result doesn’t tell you how many answers you got right. Nevertheless, I’m giving myself an A*.
As I left the test centre and headed back to Stratford station, I nearly bumped into a sour-looking Andrew Marr, BBC’s famous political commentator and television presenter, and the author of several books about British history. It must be a sign from the heavens, I thought, feeling a tad star struck even though I am not a fan of his.
Running towards the train that was about to depart, I held the door for Mr Marr who, as a consequence of the stroke he suffered a few years ago, limps quite significantly. But rather than jumping in through the door I was holding, he continued to the next one and narrowly missed the train as the doors shut in front of his nose. What an arrogant prick, I said to myself, momentarily forgetting that I am meant to become a good British citizen.
In a further bid to prove my loyalty to Queen and country, I cast my vote in the EU elections by post last week, choosing to vote on behalf of Britain and not my native Sweden. No, I didn’t vote for the Brexit Party, nor UKIP, Labour or the Conservatives, but I can still become a good patriot, I promise. After all, I am practically a Brexiteer these days, not out of political conviction, admittedly, but because if Brexit doesn’t happen, I will have needlessly spent a minor fortune on legalising my status in Britain. Citizenship doesn’t come cheap, that’s for sure.
God Save Our Noble Queen!