Fintan O’Toole: The British and Irish are no big deal to each other, which itself is a very big deal

The Irish culture of my childhood defined Ireland as whatever England was not

London children:  we played the same games and watched the same TV programmes and listened to the same pop songs

London children: we played the same games and watched the same TV programmes and listened to the same pop songs

London that summer had a sort of heat I’d never experienced in Ireland, the dense, closed-in kind you get only in very big cities. It was 1969, I was 11 years old and this was my first day in England.

I’d come over on the boat from Dublin to Liverpool with my father and my brother, who was 13. We’d come through the English midlands on the bus, a deeply foreign landscape of motorways and service stations and giant power plants.

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