Saturday, 26 April 2014

Is Cornwall an Island?

Should we consider ourselves so very special and so full of self importance that we want to be separate from the rest of the country? Or should we be saying "Welcome to our county, we are breathtaking in our beauty, fascinating in our customs and have a history to die for. We are proud of ourselves and we are proud to be part of a United Kingdom.

This week has seen Cornwall's individuality recognised, with the Cornish being granted a minority status, but what affect will this have and what will it lead to? Recently I read: 

"Feel that, boy," said the grandfather as he clutched a handful of Cornish soil. "that's the beating heart of Cornwall."

 This statement could not get any closer to the way I feel about this county if it plunged its hand into my chest and squeezed every drop of blood from my heart. My photograph, taken last year, has me standing on the bank of the Tamar, Cornwall's 'border' established by King Athelstan in the 936. As a little girl, I thought this river cut Cornwall off from England completely, thus leading me to believe Cornwall was an island. My ancestry dates back to the year dot in Cornwall and that makes me feel special, but with age I realised that the county of my birth is not an island and as much as I feel special, I am in fact, not.


An article the Guardian eloquently sums up many of the reasons I am proud to be Cornish, however this  particular statement worries me, he writes:

"To many Cornish nationalists, this week's recognition of the Cornish people as a minority, alongside the Welsh and Scots, is merely a step on the path to a devolved assembly, the re-establishment of the old Stannary Parliament" as does "the Cornish are not really English, and Cornwall is not really England."

With regard to Cornwall, but it applies generally as well, I don't think that nationalism is the way forward, there are more negatives aspects than there are positive. The main problem for me is that it supports the view that peoples only responsibility is to their own and not the rest of the world, thus creating a "them and us" society. There is nothing wrong with being proud of your nationality, as I am indeed proud to be Cornish, Cornwall is different, it has its own language, its own customs and like the article says "Cornwall's particularity lies in its abiding and diverse sense of place. No other region of England offers such a range of dramatic landscapes, nor carries such a freight of mythology and projection" and this has been acknowledged in its new status. That should be enough. We don't want to encourage the view charity begins at home or even worse I'm alright Jack!

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