No doubt you have gathered, I am a new resident of Cornwall, and have lived here permanently for over twelve months. That’s a Whole Year! My boys have settled into their schools. They have confidently forged ahead with social lives, developed a taste for Surfing and Pasties (but obviously not together) and on occasion, there is even an audible and delightful twang of West Country in their intonation, which serves to inform me of their love for their new home, and their palpable desire to fit in and belong.
It is an endearing case of the Chameleon meets Parrot. Strangely, I find it charming in my young sons; in fact it’s cute in most children, but grating in grown-ups. You see it and hear it on Parky-Norton type late night chat shows. There would be some rock star, or MTA (Model Turned Actress) who had suddenly developed a West-Coast-Drawl, and a “healthy” tan to disguise the grey pallor beneath, caused by lack of sleep, and vitamin deficiency on the “C”Plan diet. Promoting their latest album or film, the Morphing Megastar would be gnashing their expensive new teeth, fidgety, and lolling about on the sofa. But fast forward another year or two, and they quickly realise that this dangerous lolloping about in No Man’s Land had almost lost them their unique identity. Oh yes, once you’ve made it big, there’s nothing more cool than being British again, and getting back on that sofa to reminisce about your humble background and the fact you are really Reginald Dwight from Pinner.
And in reverse, my old mate Gwyneth couldn’t do British. It’s not that she hasn’t got the accent all right – she does it brilliantly; just check her out in Sliding Doors and Shakespeare in love. So, the Parrot bit is perfect, but the Chameleon? Nah, not a bit. Place one Vibram Five Finger clad foot (with optimum flexibility) out of Primrose Hill, and she’d lose all cover. Nowhere else, not even in Notting Hill, do they colour co-ordinate their nanny’s organic baby sling with their Personal Trainer’s Bikram Bottoms.
And that is why I love my new home. The Chameleon bit is dead easy; just grab your Hunter Wellies, and ideally, but not essential, try to make sure they are a matching pair. Don’t worry about hair, teeth or bras. No one here bothers.
The truth is, there is more pride and joy per square inch in this corner of the UK than I have seen anywhere in the world. That is why my boys want to be Cornish. We are not alone; in the last census, 84,000 of Cornwall’s half million residents defined themselves as Cornish. It is this sense of regional pride that really does make the Duchy quite unique. So congratulations Cornwall, on being recognised as a National Minority. Thank you for welcoming me into the heart of your Celtic Bosom. I bloody love you.
There is always something fun going on; the Furry Dance in Helston takes place on 8thMay every year and is one of the oldest customs still observed across the entire land. Nowadays, it is all about dancing in pretty dresses, and men in top hats and tails, however, the event dates back to pre-Christian times, and originally was a celebration of coming of age, in let us say, a recognisable way…
Of course, the Victorians soon made a respectable event out of it, so I shall just leave it at this; the origins of the dance maybe all about celebrating something we now take great pains to whisk away, but Chameleon or not, I am very London, and you cannot take the Hollywood out of Helston 😉