For those who watched or read about the quirky and somewhat eccentric extravaganza put on last week by the British to open the Olympics in London and baffle foreigners, it might be a useful occasion to clear up who exactly is British. Americans often refer to the whole country as England, but this rather like referring to Texas as the whole of USA. The country's official name is a long one: the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the union flag is complicated - so complicated in fact that sometimes Brits hold the flag upside down without realizing it.
The English are British and lots of people think the British are English but that annoys the Scottish and Welsh because although some think they're British and some think they aren't and some think they are but don't want to be, they all agree that they definitely are not English. All the Irish think they are Irish, apart from the ones who are Northern Irish. Some say that makes them British and Irish. But others disagree and say they should just be Irish and then some say they aren't British either but part of the United Kingdom. People from England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland can all play cricket for England because they're British as can those from Ireland even though they aren't British. So can South Africans. The English play football and rugby for England unless they aren't that good when they might try to play for Ireland. As for the offshore islands, people from the
All clear about that, now?