Dear England,

We’ve been together for a long time. You were my first love, and over the years we’ve had our ups and downs. Good times – I’m thinking of our time in Italy in 1990, the stay-at-home holiday in 1996, and that memorable weekend in Berlin in 2001 – and bad times (1988, 1992, 1994…well, basically every even-numbered year). More recently we’ve been having something of a long-distance relationship thanks to my decision to move to the States. At the time it never really crossed my mind that we’d hit any trouble together, despite the ocean between us.

But I have some bad news. There…isn’t any easy way to say this, but I think it’s time that I moved on. I don’t like what you’ve become in the past 20 years or so, and I think it’s taken the distance for me to fully appreciate how much we’ve grown apart. I’d be able to see past the difficult times if I felt you were at least trying, but even though you talk a good game I rather get the impression that you’re not really devoting your energies properly any more. I’m honestly not convinced that we even have that much in common; when I was younger, it didn’t bother me to see you stumble out of nightclubs at 3am, or find yourself in trouble with the law. Your arrogance – despite your distinctly average achievements – was somehow endearing, because I, like you, was convinced that better times were just around the corner.

As you’ve been making more and more money, you’ve lost all perspective and again, getting ideas above your station is decidedly unattractive. Every two or three years you say that you’re going to change; that this time it will be different, that this time you’ll repay my faith in you, but each time I’m let down badly. I don’t really think this is your fault – I’m sure you genuinely believe that this time, things will be different – but I feel like I need to protect myself from the constant disappointment.

I know what you’re asking yourself. You’re asking “Is there somebody else”. And…well I’m sorry, but I have to admit there is. I’ve been seeing somebody behind your back. Her name is USA.

Before you say it; I know – I used to make snide comments about her in the past, but now that I’ve come to know her I can’t help but like her. I had been keeping an eye out just to see how she was doing, but even though so far she’s not reached the levels of achievement as some, I just find that I have more fun with her than I ever did with you. I see great potential, and I’d like to be along for the ride.

Frankly, I also think she needs the support; the people around her aren’t always interested in what she’s doing and that seems a real shame to me, particularly when – as I’ve said – there is a chance that she will one day do great things. Obviously being in closer geographical proximity means that we’ll meet up more regularly than you and I ever could as well, but this is more than a relationship of convenience. Over the past 5 years I’ve found myself caring about her – believe me, it was just as big a shock to me as I’m sure it is to you – and although my friends back in the UK will probably look at me a bit funny, my mind is made up. I don’t want to do you down too much, England, but you were always a bit aloof; inaccessible in your Aston Martins and Ferraris – maybe part of it was jealousy, but I think most of it is that I’ve wanted to feel a connection, and over the past few years I’ve seen you drift away into the stratified air of the mega-rich and privileged and I’ve been left behind.

I’ll never forget you, England – I’ll always look out to see how you’re doing, and I do genuinely hope you manage to attain all of the goals you set for yourself, no matter how over-reaching they seem to be at times. And if, one day, you do happen to do so I’ll maybe shed a tear knowing that we used to be so close, and I will be happy for you, even though my happiness will be tempered somewhat by the realization that it will have taken you so long to get there, and that you never really cared about me anyway.

Best of luck,

Chris Ballard