To Italians, Italy is no doubt the best country on Earth. I guess it's the same with Canadians, Nigerians, Sri Lankans and Bolivians. But me? I am English. I have been around the world, worked in other countries and holidayed in many different places - but I have always come back to England. And just like those Italians, I say that England is most certainly the best country on Earth.
The general evidence for my argument is clear. There's our beautiful countryside, our rich history, our amazing English language, our temperate maritime climate, our creativity and our industry, our sense of humour, our fairness and of course our Yorkshire puddings.
There's also more personal evidence. This is where my ancestors lived and died. This is where I went to school and raised a family. This is where I walked a thousand miles and saw a thousand vistas. The sun setting over the Yorkshire Wolds, canal boats on The Grand Union, the view to Wasdale from Scafell Pike and our great capital city London viewed from Waterloo Bridge. This is England, land of my heart. The place where I was born.
Of course, many English people have left these shores to live in other countries. For example, my brother Robin lives in a French farmhouse close to the Pyrenees. There are English retirees on the Spanish "Costas" and countless English immigrants in Australia and New Zealand. With our adventurous spirit many of us have gone out and settled elsewhere.
And that's okay. It's okay to be an "ex-pat" - which means an emigrant. It's okay to live abroad. I came close to doing so myself a couple of times. I could have easily been an "ex-pat" but there are a couple of things I would request of all "ex-pats".
When you have gone away, please do not slag off England. Please don't say there's nothing for you here. Please don't look for the bad in England to justify your self-imposed exile. I find that sort of denigration most offensive. After all, this is my home. I never really left. You have gone so if you can't say anything nice about England then please keep your mouth securely zipped up.
England is what made you. It's in your bones. It's the land of your mothers and fathers and it's in the very words you speak. In a round about way knocking England is knocking yourself. You may have chosen to leave but the vast majority of us stayed here. We are patriots. Please respect that fact as you tootle to your Tuscan marketplace or tell Manuel to bring another cuba libre to your sunbed.
Being an immigrant in another land does not mean you have to deride the country you left behind. It is very possible to retain genuine affection for and great appreciation of the homeland you left behind while still embracing the differences you see in your new country.