These articles are published in the Slough Town FC programme. The Rebels play in the Southern Premier - just seven leagues below the Premier League. I’ve been supporting Slough since the beginning of time despite now living in Brighton. After nearly 14 nomadic years we finally have a brand spanking new home in Slough.

Monday, December 24, 2007

100% English

Printed in the Southern league south and west division match v Marlow Saturday 22nd December 2007. We lost 2-0 (mind you last week we won our first away match since January - and i bloody missed it)

While you lot are standing in the cold watching us play Marlow I will be in the city of Pune in India for a four day wedding. The bride, Tanuka is one of my girlfriend’s best mates. She’s Asian, my girlfriend is Jewish. I’m just a plain old working class boy from Slough, who didn’t go to University so never went to ‘discover’ myself on a beach in Goa during my gap year; apart from joining in the mass protests in Seattle a few years back have never been out of Europe.

My dad’s family are from the Rhonda valley, where whole villagers decamped to the Wexham estate and where apparently you could hear Welsh being spoken more than English. Some of my earliest memories are the taste and smell of my nan’s delicious welsh cakes! My mum’s family moved to Langley after the Second World War which was being expanded as part of the London overspill. Some of her family came from Italy. And on it goes, as humans cross towns and countries and continents to find a better live for their families or escape persecution. When I played for Crusaders and went to Herschel, the football team and school was a melting point of families from across the world.
So what? Well a while back Channel 4 Dispatches showed ‘100% English’, the best TV I’ve seen in a long time. Advances in DNA now allow us to trace our roots back thousands of years. Family trees usually run a blank after about 200, but if you’ve a spare few hundred quid and want to delve deeper into your past, you can rub a small brush inside your mouth to obtain a tissue sample and send it to a laboratory to be analysed.
The programme lined up willing volunteers who believed that they were English through and through, although their definitions of what it takes to be 'English' varied widely. One believed being born here was enough. For another, England had gone down hill since the invasion of 1066 and she was sure she was descended from Anglo-Saxon England. Others said the acid test was simply whether a person supported the England football and cricket teams.
The results and subsequent reactions were hilarious. A stand up comic said that despite ex footballer Ian Wright being hugely patriotic he couldn’t be English because he was black. The comedian had to laugh when it turned out that he was 10% Middle Eastern, 11% South Asian, 37% south-eastern European and 43% northern European. Carol Thatcher, was 24% Middle Eastern. And so it went on, with the crazed woman who said England had gone down the pan since the Norman Conquest threatening to sue the production company over the fact that she wasn’t 100% English. Infact being 100 per cent English or 100 per cent anything, at the genetic level, would be very bad for your health.
The tests are based on mitochondrial DNA – chromosomes passed exclusively through the female line and changing little over time – pinpointing an individual’s maternal ancestry. Go back 150,000 years and all human beings are related from a relatively small area of Africa with scientists identifying 36 clans who inhabit the world. So when we sing ‘your sister is your brother’ to opposition fans and players we are probably right somewhere down the line!
Man has been on the move ever since. Infact migration is not only the norm; it is nature's way of keeping us healthy. The more our genes mix, the better the long-term health of the species - the better we can withstand infectious diseases and the less likely we are to suffer from genetic diseases.
Dr Mark Thomas, of the Centre for Genetic Anthropology at University College, London said new research suggests we are hard-wired as a species to attract those with different genes from our own. When asked just how many pure 'English' people currently lived in England he replied. 'At a rough guess? Er, zero.' Such a thing would only have been possible if a particular social group, isolated from the rest of society, had inbred for centuries. Which probably explains Windsor supporters.
One young soldier who had worried about immigration before the film found out that through his family tree he was from at least a quarter of the globe . “For racists to find out that part of them may be what they have discriminated against for years, well that would certainly throw them off their game.”
Judging someone on the colour of their skin or where they are from has always been ridiculous – we’ve now got the science to show that all of us Little Englanders were ‘bloody foreigners’ at some point!


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