Friday, 10 July 2015

Weekend Essay: Conflicting Loyalties

Many years ago, the commander of the far-flung military formation of which my unit was part decided he wanted a parade with all his soldiers arrayed before him.  He was of the view that our loyalties properly lay with him, at his formation-level - and of course he suspected it was not really the case - so he wanted us all gathered together in one place, under his proud paterfamilial gaze, to inculcate in us the loyalty he considered we owed.

A simple matter of issuing an order, you may think, but actually (because of our geographical dispersion) it was really quite complicated.  You'd be amazed (unless you've been a solider) how many people - of all ranks - carefully engineered reasons why they could not attend the parade as summonsed.  The commander got a parade, of course: but not the 100% turnout he wanted.

He was up against something very difficult to fight: the phenomenon of where people's loyalties really lie.  Hard to tie this down - but you know it when you see it: when the flag is run up, it's pretty obvious who is saluting.  (By the way, I was absolutely of the camp that saw the fundamental repository of loyalty at the unit level*, and I'm clearly in the majority: the thriving old comrades' associations in my part of the Army are all organised along unit lines.)

With all the nationalist-type questions being posed these days: Scotland vs UK;  UK vs EU;  religion vs country;  regional devo etc etc, I have done a survey of myself and declare the following inventory of my loyalties.
  • house vs school:   school wins, though I had an excellent house-master.  (But I was a day-boy)
  • college vs university:  an odd one, this.  When I was studying it was university - college seemed too small and introverted - but as an alumnus now, it is college
  • unit vs formation:  see above, I am unrepentent
  • England vs UK:  again, an odd one.  When I was serving with the Colours, I felt like a Brit.  Now I'm not so sure - I think it's the Scotties that have driven me to this uncertainty (I've always despised Salmond)
  • parish vs diocese:  parish.   Hmm, but when there's a really good bishop ...
  • ward vs borough:  no strong feelings but probably borough.  Ward boundaries change from time to time which undermines localism; and my borough (unlike some) has a clear identity
  • department vs company:  company.  In my wage-slave career (with four different employers) I switched departments every couple of years
  • national vs supra-national:  no contest !  - and let not Jean-Claude Junker ever, ever go on a tour of his Europe anywhere near me
(I'm not sure what I make of all that!  Over to the amateur psychologists.)

What say you, readers - where do your loyalties lie?

ND

_________________
* I turned up at the parade anyway, to watch his discomfiture.  Boy, was he cross.

21 comments:

Blue Eyes said...

I was thinking (soft of) about this this week as I returned to the now-rather-Sloaney part of London where I grew up. I have little loyalty to any class grouping.

No particular loyalty to individual Boroughs, I swear my allegiance to the incoherent whole; but probably still regard south of the river as a bit forrin.

Then it's probably free markets, England, Britain, the World. Although I have felt myself taking sides for Europe (the continent) when faced by an American doing something egregious in a continental country.

Timbo614 said...

Wife, Kids & the grand variety :)
Rest of family & friends.
Britain, actually I want a word that means "loyalty to Britishness" but can't think of one.

We have seen how Europe treats its "friends".
With friends like that we don't need enemies.



Anonymous said...

In a job, company, fierce loyalty to close colleagues but always 'a company person' attached to the whole, not the grouping/subsidiary.

Rugby Union, not club always England.

Rugby league, club and Great Britain.

Cricket, Yorkshire then England.

Football, club first then England.

I've never really considered myself to be British, always fiercely English/Yorkshire - that's in my blood. I have Irish and Scots roots by blood and thus distant sympathies, I do love to travel in Scotland and love parts of Ireland and South Wales. I love all of England, from lands end to Thanet, Northumbria and Cumbria/Westmorland, Lancs across the Midlands to the Welsh marches and Fenland too, Cotswolds, Chilterns, South Downs are beautiful. In the rocks, they are my bones.

Yet - Britain and being British, probably why I shy away, to me it is a given - that, by all ways, in all factors and by my very definition there can be no contest to the fact, that, I am British - I don't need a flag to tell me.

Watered down? - actually washed away.

This is why, I hate the latest immigrant arrivals 'join the queue passports this way'... to be installed by the PC Stasi/media instant "British" - you can never assimilated; the meaning, the natural knowing and sensation of feeling, inate; 'I am British', the belonging, that being labelled British means.
Thus, just via being in possession of a photograph on some meaningless document - does not permit the holder to aver, "now I am British".......by being in mere possession of a British passport.

Alack, a Black passport was a status symbol, a requisite, a requirement, secret proud moment once, precisely because we didn't grant them to any Abdul, Sikander, Janick or Ivan but now.................That's why - can you understand?

Bill Quango MP said...

Mrs Q, being Irish, if she discovers another person from the Emerald Isle, will stop and ask them where from.
And on getting the answer will say "Ahhh..yes I know Scribery-dee! On the coast, there..I have an Uncle from Fiddleynor .. just down the road.."

And this leads to a long discussion about places and people of which I have no knowledge or interest. But which they will yak on for a good 5 to 10 minutes.
Two strangers united by a common nation and an extended family member that might possibly know someone from anothers extended family.


I never feel that way.That sense of belonging to a community. Maybe its a minority thing? Living in a foregin country ?

Blue Eyes said...

I agree with Timbo. The Britishness of "fair play", neighbourliness, stoicism, healthy disregard or authority but also deference to rules and regs, and all those nice things has nothing to do with this particular island or where we were born or what passport we carry. There are plenty of people with Britishness who have never set foot in Britain, and plenty pick it up after arriving, while some born here never get it.

So I disagree with Anon.

lilith said...

I had a weird thing recently with NZ v England cricket. Naturally I support the Kiwis, but at one point I found myself shouting all sorts at the radio in support of England?! Hmmm.

Sebastian Weetabix said...

Personally I feel British first and Scottish second, which probably makes me a member of a threatened minority these days, but since I live in Yorkshire with my English missus the Scum in the McANC view me as a deracinated Quisling anyway. But I must gently observe that you English have an annoying tendency to say 'English' when you mean 'British' and 'British' when you mean 'English'.

I notice Yorkshiremen harbour no such insecurities. Yorkshire first second and last. There's even a bloke in our pub who talks about "going to England" when work takes him to London. I think he's joking but it can be hard to tell.

vimax indonesia said...

I agree with Timbo. The Britishness of "fair play", neighbourliness, stoicism, healthy disregard or authority but also deference to rules and regs, and all those nice things has nothing to do with this particular island or where we were born or what passport we carry. There are plenty of people with Britishness who have never set foot in Britain, and plenty pick it up after arriving, while some born here never get it.

Blue Eyes said...

We only do that to irritate the Scots. ;-)

noval said...

And this leads to a long discussion about places and people of which I have no knowledge or interest. But which they will yak on for a good 5 to 10 minutes.
Two strangers united by a common nation and an extended family member that might possibly know someone from anothers extended family.

Demetrius said...

What about pubs?

dearieme said...

"you English have an annoying tendency to say 'English' when you mean 'British' and 'British' when you mean 'English'." Indeed; the expression "British Justice" is used to describe any shortcoming of English law or the English courts.

Anonymous said...

My loyalty tends to vary depending on what the threat is.

andrew said...

I wonder what a Japanese person would say.

Michael said...

Having now retired, I find that my national level of contacts in business has now reduced to the people I meet in my village, and little else...

Even after just six months, I'm now struggling to remember some of the people I used to meet in Balls Bros, although I have to admit, that after most visits to Balls Bros, I was unlikely to remember anything anyway!

My loyalties are now down to popping a few Sweet Williams to some neighbours, and asking after someone whom I haven't seen for seventy-two hours!

Weekend Yachtsman said...

house v. school:

Different if you're a boarder - house every time.

(We regarded day-boys as part-timers who were hardly at the school at all)

Anonymous said...

Naturlich all my loyalty is given to the grand European project. Tomorrow belongs to me !

andrew said...


So the Greeks worked out that voting for free food will not fill stomachs.
- and there is no point to a govt that won't feed its citizens.

adham said...



اهم شركات كشف تسربات المياه بالدمام كذلك معرض اهم شركة مكافحة حشرات بالدمام والخبر والجبيل والخبر والاحساء والقطيف كذكل شركة تنظيف خزانات بجدة وتنظيف بجدة ومكافحة الحشرات بالخبر وكشف تسربات المياه بالجبيل والقطيف والخبر والدمام
شركة تنظيف خزانات بجدة
شركة مكافحة حشرات بالدمام
شركة كشف تسربات المياه بالدمام

adham said...


اهم شركات نقل العفش والاثاث بالدمام والخبر والجبيل اولقطيف والاحساء والرياض وجدة ومكة المدينة المنورة والخرج والطائف وخميس مشيط وبجدة افضل شركة نقل عفش بجدة نعرضها مجموعة الفا لنقل العفش بمكة والخرج والقصيم والطائف وتبوك وخميس مشيط ونجران وجيزان وبريدة والمدينة المنورة وينبع افضل شركات نقل الاثاث بالجبيل والطائف وخميس مشيط وبريدة وعنيزو وابها ونجران المدينة وينبع تبوك والقصيم الخرج حفر الباطن والظهران
شركة نقل عفش بالرياض
شركة نقل عفش بالطائف
شركة نقل عفش بالدمام
شركة نقل عفش بجدة
شركة نقل عفش بمكة
شركة نقل عفش بالمدينة المنورة
شركة نقل عفش بينبع
شركة نقل عفش بالخرج
شركة نقل عفش بالقصيم

adham said...


شركة نقل عفش بخميس مشيط
شركة نقل عفش بتبوك
شركة نقل عفش بابها
شركة نقل عفش ببريدة
شركة نقل عفش بنجران
شركة نقل عفش بحائل
شركة نقل عفش بالظهران
شركة نقل عفش واثاث
شركة نقل عفش