The reason why my family is the worst of all families

I may only be 21, and there are many things which I say with complete assurance that on closer inspection will show that I’m completely wrong. There is one thing, though, that I know with absolute conviction. Crusty pieces of cloth is not something that any male over the age of 13 want to claim ownership of. Just trust me on this one.

The reason is the same reason many young and not so young boys and men will start to insist on washing their own bed-linen when puberty hits. No need to go into crude and embarrassing detail of why this is so. It just is. Trust me here.

Mark and I do our laundry over at Auntie’s house. She has the washing machine in her kitchen, and we have mountains of laundry that we drive over once a week. Underwear, socks, shirts, jumpers, trousers, bed-wear, and so on. And towels.

It’s a social thing. We could buy a cheap washing machine. We can afford it. However, driving over with our laundry gets us out of the house, and lets us meet Auntie. Which is good. It also allows Auntie to help us with the laundry. Which is also good… sometimes.

When she sends one of us out on an errand, like she did last Wednesday, she digs into the piles of laundry and helps us stuff it all into the machine. Mark drove off to buy some snacks she requested. I and Auntie happily caught up with things while we stuffed the machine and sorted different textiles into different piles on her kitchen floor.

At least, we did that until the point her hand touched upon a particularly crusty small towel. This she dropped back on the pile with a grimace. She turned to me, and said: “This isn’t going to make me pregnant by just touching it, is it?”

Ouch. I am 21. I am male. If I ever had any crusty towels like that, and I absolutely and categorically deny the existence of the possibility, I certainly wouldn’t bring them to Laundromat Auntie. This towel was the one we used to wipe the ears off Watson when he had his ear infection. Watson spent a few days on antibiotics, and on excreting this disgusting clear liquid from his ears. A liquid which crusted in our towel…

So, no, Auntie. That’s not a risk. But you might wash your hands before eating anything!  Maybe my revenge is that I couldn’t think of anything to say then, and she ate with those hands. Take that, Auntie, and stick fingers with Watson goo into your mouth.

I only thought about that come-back once we were in the car on the way back home. Before then, Mark had wondered why I was furiously blushing. He had also wondered why Auntie had that look of complete victory, and why she giggled so much for half an hour after he came back.

I think that my family hates me and takes every chance to embarrass me. At least Mark’s mum only shows naked baby pictures of Mark to strangers. I’ll take that every time instead of this. I’m sure Auntie threw herself on the phone to ring mum. “Hi, Sister. You’ll never guess what I did to your son today”. And she’ll beam while doing it. And mum will beam too.

Why it feels like I’m being forced to choose a nationality with the European referendum


All my life, other people have enforced a nationality on me. When I lived in Sweden, I was ”that English kid”. Here in England, I’m often ”that Swedish guy”. It seems that as soon as I tell people about myself, they feel like imposing a nationality on me. A nationality, more often than not, that’s not the one I think of myself as.

The only language I have an odd accent in is in Swedish, but that’s more because of lack of use now. When I left Sweden, I didn’t have a discernible accent. Now, I find that I have to pause when speaking the language to search for the right word. Either that, or I use an English word instead. When mum and I speak, it will be a mix of both languages. Mark remarked on this once, and it stuck with me.

”You two should decide which language you speak and stick to it,” he said in that infuriatingly matter-of-fact condescension which only he is capable of. Yes, it annoyed me when he said it. I don’t claim to be that rational all the time. It stuck with me because of my annoyance.

My bi-nationality, or broken nationality, or no-nationality is part of me. I don’t feel any particular way, except when I’m excluded from one by other people. I like being able to slip between nationalities, seamlessly and fluidly.

In one instance I’m the Swede, and in the next I’m the English guy, and in the moment after that I’m the hybrid which observes the two states. That is who I am, and that is my national feeling. I’m both and neither at the same time.

On June 23rd we’re being asked if Britain should remain a member of the European Union. On the surface, that has nothing to do with nationalities or nationalism. Of course, in actual fact it has everything to do with it, because that’s the debate that is being fought. ”British interest”, ”National sovereignty”, whatever.

It was easy to pretend that the referendum had nothing to do with me, that as a bi-national, it wouldn’t affect me. I would get a Swedish pass-port, and life would go on as usual. It’s not working out that way because once again a nationality is being imposed on me. Either English, who supposedly should vote for ’out’. Or Swedish, who supposedly should vote to stay in. And then all the swirl around in the office, out on the town, in pubs, and wherever about ”What about Britain!?” Worse, either side is a political choice with aspects I don’t like. Vote ‘out’ for an arch-conservative Nigel Farage-Britain? Vote ‘remain’ for a neo-liberal Greece-crushing banker’s union?

I’m feeling a bit resentful that I’m being forced to chose a nationality. It’s almost as bad as having one chosen for me by other people. There are reasons to vote both ways, and siding with one means siding with that side’s politics. Also, it feels like I’m then excluding half of me; performing an amputation of myself. I’m both and neither, not just one.