Being someone who grew up in colonial Hong Kong and studied in the UK, I have to say I always have the perplex feeling on Britain.
When I was a schoolboy, I envied so much those classmates who could speak fluent English in British accent, so much so that I tried to imitate but eventually still just cling with my Hong Kong accent.
Great Britain always gives me the nostalgic feeling of the “good old days”.
When I was studying for my postgraduate at the journalism school of the University of Sheffield, I could completely feel the British arrogance in my British classmates and lecturers. That was in 1999.
Being someone who grew up in Hong Kong – a pre-dominantly local Chinese community – I had never experienced any racial discrimination. Even when I studied English Literature at the then very colonial-style University of Hong Kong, I couldn’t feel any racial discrimination at all even in front of all my British professors.
However, although in Sheffield we had lecturers who used to work at BBC, The Observer and The Independent, I was simply shocked when the lecturers asked me and a black classmate (in fact she was born and grew up in England) if we understood the class in English. I was even more shocked when a classmate asked me if I regretted Hong Kong was returned to China and how Hong Kong could survive after leaving Britain. Another classmate asked me if Hong Kong was in Japan. The most shocking of all was when a classmate asked if I ate dogs.
I’m recalling all these just now after seeing the Brexit saga. I have never hated British people. I have many friends who are very kind and intelligent Britons. But I can feel that many British people are perhaps still having the imperial feeling of Great Britain and still believing that people in other countries are pathetically dependant on Britain’s imperial grace to survive.
Anyhow, Brexit is such a surreal reality to me. I can still feel some kind of British arrogance in it.
We are living in the 21st century. I’m not sure how long we should still lament the “good old days”. Surreal to me.