Strangelove – my weird and sleazy relation to the UK
I ended up in this country by accident: I came here for a short juvenile joy ride, and I have now been here for 16 happy years. It is no exaggeration to say that I love the UK. I admire this country for its impressive cultural diversity, welfare achievements, commitment to social equality and, most importantly, marmite.
I even love the weather – it’s seasonal, like my mood swings. I am ecstatic when my rhododendra blossom in spring, or when my window turns white in winter. The incessant heat and perennial beach of Brazil dry my lips, scorch my skin and fry my brains. I much prefer a foggy day in London town to a sultry afternoon in Rio 40C.
London alone is home to some of my favourite musicians and filmmakers: Amy Winehouse, Depeche Mode, Suede, Alfred Hitchcock and Derek Jarman. This is true love.
But love isn’t blind. There are deeply disturbing aspects about this society: post-imperialistic values, an arrogant stance towards the rest of Europe, the belligerence that culminated in the Iraq war, the fear and surveillance society that are eroding our civil rights and converting the nation into a hysterical and borderline totalitarian state.
The day of my British citizenship ceremony wasn’t the happiest of my life. The Queen does not fully impersonate my liberal ideals of democracy and equality, and yet I had to declare that “I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her” (with capital H, as in God). I fasted the day before, just in case.
It saddens me when people in Brazil affectionately ask me about the “land of the Queen” (“terra da rainha”). Please ask me instead about the land of the Beatles, or the home of Shakespeare! I think that the monarchy reeks of imperialism and a tacit sense of superiority, and it should belong to the past.
I don’t know how much longer I will stay in this country. My father says that immigrants have an split identity and always miss the other end. That’s exactly the way I feel. The difference is that he left Europe to live in Brazil in the 1940s, while I did the opposite 50 years later.
I am a foreigner wherever I go. Brazilians think I’m an expat, while Brits take me for an alien. They can spot my unusual ways on both sides of the Atlantic. This can be daunting or exciting, depending on how you embrace your otherness – I find it electrifying and titillating.
Many Brazilians have criticised me for abandoning the “sleeping giant”. They think that I’m a traitor who conveniently relinquished my motherland as soon as my wings grew. One should never forsake their birthplace and should instead fight to improve it, they would probably argue.
The truth is that I have left Brazil, but Brazil hasn’t left me. I may never go back, but that doesn’t matter – I will carry Brazil inside me wherever I go.
I love both Brazil and the UK. And love isn’t mutually exclusive. The world is big and so is my heart. And there’s nothing like three-way unnatural interaction!
Strangelove – strange highs and strange lows, that’s how my love goes.