So, the Olympics are in England. That’s the UK, right?


I’ve been trying to think of some ingenious way in which I could weave the Olympics into a thread about, say, how to set up the check spring on your 66K, but try as I might, I couldn’t do it.  And believe me I tried.

But even though nowadays Elsie and I have no interest in sport, it would be churlish of me to ignore completely this whole Olympics thing.  So bear with me while I subject you to a post which has no relevance whatsoever to vintage Singers – unless of course you count the inspiration for what follows, which was an email exchange I had earlier this year with a guy in Canada from whom I was considering buying a rather rare attachment.

I needed to know what the shipping cost would be, and he quoted me a price which seemed excessive.   Fortunately I knew what the packed weight was likely to be, so I checked on the Canada Post website and came up with a figure about 50% cheaper.  Thanks to our subsequent email exchange, I now know that if you are in Canada and you wish to send a parcel to London, the cost of so doing, as calculated by the Canada Post website, depends on whether you enter the destination country as “England” or “UK”.  Which, if you are a Brit, is bizarre.

If, however, you’re the average American (or maybe even the average Canadian), it’s actually this whole England / Britain / UK thing which is bizarre.  So now, when we are led to believe that the eyes of the whole world are or will shortly be on the London Olympics, here’s a simple explanation of the whole thing.  It’s based on an article on the BBC news website written by Jon Kelly and Hussain Hussaini, edited and amended for clarification.  OK, here we go …

The English are British.  Lots of people think that the British are the English, but that annoys the Scots and the Welsh, because although most Scots and most Welsh know that they’re British, even if they don’t speak English, some of them think they aren’t, and some think they are but they wish they weren’t.  Scottish and Welsh people alike can though be relied upon to tell you emphatically that they are not English.

So can the Irish.  Ireland is an island, five-sixths of which is The Republic Of Ireland, which is nothing to do with the UK.  The other one-sixth is Northern Ireland, which is.

Most Irish people consider themselves to be Irish, apart from the Northern Irish, some of whom say that they are both British and Irish.  Others disagree and say they’re not exactly Irish, but they aren’t British either because although Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom, it’s not part of Great Britain.

Great Britain is a political term, by which is meant England, Wales and Scotland.  Add Northern Ireland to those three and you get the United Kingdom, which is just the short form of The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

People from England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland may all play cricket for England, because they are British. People from Ireland may play cricket for England, even though they aren’t British.  The English play football for England, unless they aren’t very good at it, in which case they might try to play for Ireland.

The Isle of Wight, Anglesey, the Orkneys and the Isle of Man are, like Scotland and Wales, all part of the British Isles.  People from the Isle of Wight are English, those from Anglesey are Welsh, and those from the Orkneys are Scottish, and they are all British.  However, people from the Isle of Man are not, because even though it lies half-way between the island of Ireland and England, which is of course itself also part of an island, the Isle of Man is not part of the United Kingdom.

So there you go.  A quick and simple guide to help the easily confused.  Maybe somebody from Canada Post will read this one day …


10 responses

  1. Correct, Linda! It’s a republic, and it’s part of the British Isles, as are Achill Island, Gorumna and Inis Mor, which are Irish, hence not part of the UK.


  2. Totally confused now, by the time I read the last paragraph, I’d forgotten what the first one said and had to read it again. I have come to the conclusion that I will not be able to remember more than the the southern part of Ireland is a republic.

  3. SCATS!!! That is Spitting Coffee At The Screen to the uninformed….very funny Sid, and I am no less confused.