Taking the ‘are you British’ test…

Damian Lanigan over at the Telegraph is looking for contributions to his alternative British test. So far most of it is pretty Anglo Centric, so I reckon he could do with a few more from a Northern Irish British angle… To give you flavour, here’s Damian’s Number One:

1 – On encountering a Morris dancer one should:

a) clap a little, smile wanly, wish one were elsewhere
b) buy him a pint of Hook Norton and commiserate about the declining build-quality of knee-bells
c) decapitate him

Not sure which of those would disqualify you as being British…


  • Pancho’s Horse

    1 – On encountering an Orange band, one should:

    a) clap a little, smile wanly, wish they were elsewhere
    b) offer to let them urinate in your garden
    c) make a note to take a long detour back

    Not sure which of those would disqualify you as being British …

  • Mark Mcgregor

    Northern Ireland are playing England in an important soccer match, one should:

    a) Support one of the teams
    b) Support both of the teams
    c) Support neither
    d) Watch some football instead

  • nineteensixtyseven

    Of course it’s Anglocentric, the British see us all as Irish over here anyway.

  • Breakfast is:

    a) a wee cuppa tea in yer hand;
    b) in a Starbucks cup;
    c) toast and marmalade;
    d) an invitation to a coronary?

  • Twinbrook

    A Traditional route is;

    a)scenic journey;
    b)traffic jam;
    c)a back road;
    d)a good old walk through a Fenian area.

  • Rory

    Is Northern Ireland:

    a) In the United Kingdom
    b) In Ireland
    c) In both
    d) In neither
    e) Who cares?

    Where is the west of Northern Ireland?

    a) In Southern Ireland
    b) In the middle of Northern Ireland
    c) In the north of Southern Ireland
    d) This question is fucking up my satnav

  • A good candidate for a government minister is:

    a) A mad old preacher who thinks line-dancing is sexually suggestive.
    b) A mad old terrorist who thinks blowing things up and shooting people is a good way to get what you want.
    c) An incompetent foreigner with an unnatural affinity for friends of South American terrorists.
    d) A jug-eared twit whose primary concern is bringing large building projects to his own constituency regardless of the consequences to the country as a hole.
    e) A property-developer’s pawn.
    f) All of the above.

  • Gerry lvs Castro

    Northern Ireland is:

    a) Our wee country.
    b) The occupied six counties.
    c) Thankfully on the other side of the border.

    Michael Stone is:

    a) The Milltown Rambo.
    b) A British stooge egged on by the securocrats.
    c) Not as good an author as Gerry Adams.

    Bobby Sands is:

    a) A selfless martyr who gave his life for Ireland.
    b) A selfless martyr who gave his life for SFs electoral mandate.
    c) A deluded eejit who gave his life for nothing.

    The Republic is:

    a) A glittering jewel in the EU crown completely free of any Brit influence.
    b) A papish hovel.
    c) Not nearly Republican enough.

    Being British means:

    a) Getting pissed, eating three curries and shagging a random male/female.
    b) Respecting the Royal family and waving a union jack.
    c) Being English.

  • foreign correspondent

    I´d be afraid to take an Are you British test – in case I passed… I´m too close to middle age to possess the energy required to re-evaluate my identity 🙂

  • Belfast Gonzo

    All of the above.

    Especially for breakfast.

  • He said it

    What does the Union Flag symbolise?

    (a) The union between England, Scotland and Ireland
    (b) We don’t care about the Welsh
    (c) 800 years of imperialism and raping the world of its natural resources under the banner of educating the natives

    Is the Queen:
    (a) English and therefore British
    (b) German and therefore British
    (c) Guilty of plotting to murder her former daughter-in-law

  • I wouldn’t have thought something this obvious would need said, but people stop taking you seriously as soon as you use the words “800 years of…” in a sentence.

    I may be over-analysing this obviously intelligent contribution but how a 2-300 year old flag of a country of the same age represents “800 years of” anything is a little puzzling too.

  • He said it


    A fair point – I am sure the people of India, Pakisatn, South Africa and a fair part of the rest of Africa, Palestine/Israel, the USA for that matter and not forgetting Ireland, would like to emphasise your point.

    Maybe the question could be:
    You look at the most famous conflicts in the world and realise that they were a British colony at some stage – Are you
    (a) Proud how Britain f**ked those countries up
    (b) Ashamed at your country’s legacy
    (c) Proud you’re not British

    But maybe I’m over analysing your obvious intelligence.

  • British

    This is all silly.

    You are what you feel.

  • The Truth

    You are British if you are :

    1. From the island of Britain, which comprises of England, Scotland & Wales.

    2. From the rest of the World.

  • If it makes you happy

    Or the Britsih Isles?

  • darth rumsfeld

    the truth
    are you not British if you are from the British Isles?
    Your first test excluded the isle of man, Channel Islands, Shetland, orkney, and Rockall

  • The Truth

    1. The british isles consists of Britain and its isles.
    2. Ireland consists of Ireland and its isles.

  • Big Maggie

    Are you not British when you’re from Gibraltar?

  • The Truth

    Are you American when you are born in an American naval base in Saudi Arabia.

  • Screwball

    To channel Alec Guinness it’s all down to a certain point of view. A man born and raised in Glasgow will no dout consider himself Scottish and hold a British passport. Here it gets cloudy because we have let our elected representatives cloud the matter. As long as there is a sectarian carve up happening it will continue to be cloudy. Ask a passer by in the Republic where Gerry Adams is from and they’re more likely to take a Unionist view on it than a Nationalist one.

  • The Truth

    Britain is Britain
    Ireland is Ireland.

    Kneeling and worshipping at the alter of England will never change this. You are better than you preceive yourself, so arise thy serf and free yourself.

  • DK

    The Truth:

    A riddle: I’m English, but live in Northern Ireland, and my children (born in Belfast) have Irish passports. What am I and, what are my children?

  • The Truth

    You my dear man are surely a proud Englishman and British. Your children are sons/daughters of Ireland. And may they always do you and Ireland proud.

  • DK

    The Truth – thanks, but I think that the term “Northern Irish” seems better for the kids.

  • British

    As I said before you are what you feel you are.

  • The Truth

    Whatever works for you. But if you think that there is such a nationality then check their passports. People in Malin head Co.Donegal are more northern than where you sit.

  • gaelgannaire

    Regarding the British Nationality Act.

    Some have argued on Slugger that nationalist are automatically British subjects / citizens as a result of this act whether they wish to be British or not, they are thus claimed and that this is unaffected by which passport a person holds is irrelevant.

    Do the GFA affect this.

    I have heard conflicting legal advice on the issue.

    Do nationalist have to write the the British Home Secretary in order to renounce British nationality?

  • Yvonne


    This is all silly.

    you feel what you are.

  • Greenflag

    ‘Do nationalist have to write the the British Home Secretary in order to renounce British nationality? ‘

    They can write all they want but they’ll still have to pay taxes to HMG for Queenie’s upkeep, castles , etc etc !

  • Greenflag

    1 – On encountering a Morris dancer one should:

    a) clap a little, smile wanly, wish one were elsewhere
    b) buy him a pint of Hook Norton and commiserate about the declining build-quality of knee-bells
    c) decapitate him

    Not sure which of those would disqualify you as being British

    Decapitation surely would be the preferred option for most British if it were legal.

    We Irish would surely mistake these hopping about jimbos for poorly trained raucous imitators of Riverdance and thus accuse them of international plagiarism of the cultural kind and throw rocks at them or beer bottles . A much more tolerant and understanding response than ‘decapitation’ surely ?

  • Rory

    “you are what you feel you are

    I am sorry to inform you, British, that this is only true post-operatively. “Mister” does not become “Miss” without the snip.

  • British


    I have to say your answer is ‘balls’.

  • Buile Suibhne

    Michael Longley is interesting on the topic on the following site:


  • Buile Suibhne

    The site also has a transcript of the Longley video.

    Michael Longley, Ireland Professor of Poetry
    A filmed contribution
    Longley was introduced by W.C. as the “greatest lyrical poet writing in the English language today”. Longley began by stating that over the past few decades the best poetry from NI had been “about not ignoring the dark present and at the same time imagining different futures.” He went on to state that the best poems have been true to “our multifarious literary traditions” which offer us “profound ways” to understand the cultural, religious and political complications of NI:
    “We have here a wonderful cat’s cradle of cultures, that intertwine and pull against each other, a wonderfully rich confluence of cultures – Irish, English, Scottish, Anglo-Irish – a whirlpool that causes violence sometimes, but it can also generate energy and creative commotion. We’re gradually harnessing for good the power of the whirlpool.”
    While we have recently embarked on an era of power sharing, the complications, he suggested, will remain for a long time. He felt that that was where poetry and the other arts came in, to help “explain us to ourselves”. Poetry, he claimed, “raises consciousness and conscience”.
    The oversimplification by people of NI into green Ireland/Orange Ulster is “dangerously inadequate”:
    “We should be trying to undermine those old …death-dealing certainties…opposing the old binary simplicities – orange/green, Catholic/Protestant, nationalist/unionist. It should never again be a question of either/or but of both/and.”
    He suggested we needed to be careful when using the word ‘identity’, which he claimed is a useful concept only when it covered “all our complexities of affiliation, the complexities of our lived experience.” Identity on this island, he warned, had been reduced to “a very dangerous cultural/political construct, a crudely drawn badge or label”. He further argued that such labels of Irishness or Britishness took on “pathological political form” in NI, but both labels are now “beginning to show their age”.
    He described his own experience which did not mesh with either label: as a child of English parents, living in Belfast, he was torn between the different accents of home and the playground. As a poet, he would “hate to be considered as anything other than an Irish poet,” but insists at the same time on “remaining true to my Britannic side.” He argued that the Good Friday Agreement allowed us not to be confined to only one cultural affiliation.
    He went on to look at how we often define ourselves by what we are not:
    “In America…I feel European. In Italy I feel Northern European, more at home with Rembrandt, say, that Michelangelo. In England I feel very Irish. In Dublin I know for sure I’m an Ulsterman.”
    Describing his upbringing in a “leafy suburb” of Belfast, he described a childhood that was “one foot in the town and one …in the countryside…and I drifted between both just as I drifted between Irishness and Englishness.” The result, he claimed, “was better than being fixed and rigid, hard and indeterminate”. He was, instead, “impressionable…open to possibilities.”
    He concluded by reading “Ceasefire”, written in response to the impending IRA ceasefire of August 1994. He was reading the Iliad at the time and produced a sonnet about the old King Priam visiting the tent of Achilles to beg for the body of his son, Hector: (closing couplet)
    I get down on my knees and do what must be done
    And kiss Achilles’ hand, the killer of my son.

  • Ben

    When not flying the Union Jack you:

    1) are flying the flag of Israel, drawing another unfortunate mess into your own.

    2) are rummaging around for a Tri-colour or a papal flag to burn in order to warm the cockles of your heart.

    3) are carrying banners depicting the long and recent dead who wanted to be part of the UK far more than the UK wanted them.

    4) are waving the flag of some football club that will soon be eclipsed by FC Barcelona in world popularity, much like the Empyre itself.

    5) are singing some of Billy Bragg’s more intelligent songs, but not understanding the lyrics.

  • Buile Suibhne @ 03:50 PM:

    What an excellent and uplifting contribution.

    Longley’s word “indeterminate” (which also occurs repeatedly in critical appreciation of his work) is very telling.

    He is the outsider, though, as he makes clear.

    Being “indeterminate” is rarely a characteristic of the Ulsterman (and that’s not using the noun in any political or denominational sense). A personal addition: over the years, I have several times found my own “Anglo-” side saying to my Ulster acquaintances (and wife): “I wish I was as certain of anything as you are of everything.”

  • Greenflag

    ‘I wish I was as certain of anything as you are of everything.’”

    LOL 🙂 Same here . This could be more to do with the marital state than any characteristic regional or national trait !


    It’s funny how many Ulstermen/Irishmen who serve/served in the British forces are/were actually proud to highlight their Irish identity when across the water. The focus of these Irish regiments is actually on their sense of Irishness and provincial loyalties. Let’s face it when anyone of us steps off a plane or boat in Blighty we are Paddies. Blair Mayne was one of the most fearsome British soldiers in World War II but he was still known as ‘Paddy Mayne’. I hate to be the one to break the bad news to unionists but the mainland doesn’t recognise them or any part of Ireland as British. A Muslim in Bradford or young black kid in south London is considered more British than your average Crawford or Wendy in Norn Iron. The Scots & Welsh downplay the British link and this Britishness that Unionists profess loyalty to disappeared with the lowering of Victoria’s coffin in 1901.

  • Rory

    Very true, Lurig. An “Ulsterman” in London who proclaims his Britishness while attempting to downplay his Irishness is simply a figure of derision and meets with a raised eyebrow and a degree of wariness, people not quite knowing what to make of this outlandish creature.

    I don’t think most people can understand why anyone would willingly choose to be identified with something that to most means loud voiced Paisleyism, the ugly backward provincialism of marching bands and braggardly drunken intolerance.

    Much better to be Irish I assure you. Why over here they even tolerate Terry Wogan and some fellow called Bono, whoever he might be.