Last Saturday I sat down once again to watch Wales v. England in the Six Nations. It was close and exciting rugby, tho the wrong side won. When it is a matter of sport, there can be no doubt where my loyalties lie: I would fail the Tebbit test. The test, you may remember, was proposed in 1990 by Thatcher's attack-dog, as a test of true assimilation for those of an immigrant background. At the cricket, which nation do you cheer for? Thus, are you harking back to where you came from or cheering from where you are? (it is at least rather better than his latest proposal - who did your grandfather fight for in the war? - which a second's reflection would tell you is bonkers however you approach it).
The Cricket test is interesting tho, for what it says about the the importance of roots for all of us, and their almost ineluctable quality. There are of course people who can start a new life for themselves with never a look back: they are rare. For the majority our roots cling to us even down to the second or third generation; and how much harder is it to escape their embrace when your skin colour is for others a patent and immediate signifier of your presumed difference.
An attachment to our past, where we come from, is more than mere sentiment. It is an awareness of what makes each of us who and what we are. But recognising what conditions us does not commit us to a future. We remain capable, for the most part, of rational choices. When I lend my support to the Welsh rugby team, it is a recognition of my heritage and is a sentiment that produces a warmth of feeling. With the crowd at the Principality stadium, I feel proud of where I come from and identify with them. But that does not prevent me recognising that through circumstances I have made my home elsewhere, and I have other loyalties that demand my affection too; wife, family and friends and a different landscape that has given me a living and nourished me for a long time. I am entitled to feel sentimental about those too - and in appropriate circumstances manifest that feeling. Very few of us ever have to choose, and if we were compelled, could not. Tebbit forgot that. We can take delight in both.
As to pride in country and identity - that's for another post!