Cristina Odone: How About Celebrating UK History for a Change?

tags: Telegraph (UK), British history, United Kingdom, Cristina Odone



Cristina Odone is a journalist, novelist and broadcaster specialising in the relationship between society, families and faith. She is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Policy Studies and is a former editor of the Catholic Herald and deputy editor of the New Statesman. She is married and lives in west London with her husband, two stepsons and a daughter. She has recently launched the website freefaith.com.

I'm glad to see that the new National Curriculum will be big on British history. The present state of affairs is dire, and has long needed an overhaul. Eric Pickles has stressed the importance of English for immigrants to feel proper citizens – but history is just as necessary, for citizens and immigrants alike. When the natives have been taught to hate their ancestors, who's going to teach the newcomers how lucky they are to be in their new homeland?

Identity is a precious thing. As the daughter of an Italian father and Swedish mother, born in Nairobi, raised in Washington DC and now living in Britain, I envy people whose roots stretch deep into one country. Like my daughter: she was born in London and has lived here all her (almost) ten years. She knows the words to "God Save the Queen" (almost) and whooped when Andy Murray won at Wimbledon.

But if Izzy feels patriotic, she doesn't know why. She has only the vaguest idea who Winston Churchill was – though she knows why Boudicca is remembered. She talks about the Great Fire of London and the Blitz as if they were a few years apart. Her history projects have been like a connect-the-dots drawing – without the connecting lines....



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