x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Katie Trotter: Living a lifestyle away from home

Expat life offers the comfort of feeling at home globally; just don't lose your passport.

The one thing most people will notice at a wedding is what everyone is wearing. I bet you all remember Pippa Middleton's dress from a few weeks ago? I just went home for yet another wedding (I think I am getting to "that age"). It used to be there was a standard dress code when it came to weddings - a nice dress with a nice cashmere wrap and matching shoes. Not too sexy, not too white, not too showy. Now there are all kinds of considerations. Is it a city wedding or a country wedding? Each requires a different style of dress.

But if I'm honest, it wasn't the clothes that fascinated me this time but something else. Sitting at the table of my cousin's wedding I looked around; I was joined by two from Scotland, one from Australia, two from England and three from India. Quite a mixed bag, I am sure, if you were to compare it to my parents' wedding party a generation ago.

As you may already know by now, I'm Irish. Well, kind of. To borrow a phrase, it's complicated. My mother, a proud Scot, will take any given chance to tease us. "You don't even have mountains here - just little mounds," she says. My father is different because, we, like him, are Northern Irish - a political anomaly out on our own. You see, there is no Northern Irish passport; I have access to an Irish passport and a British passport. I have both. Yet I am neither - flailing around in no-man's land. Which is a funny old place to be.

More and more people from Northern Ireland are choosing to carry both passports. In England, the Irish passport offers a romantic sense of detachment, an often desirable emotion while being herded through London airports by particularly unpleasant security personnel.

The British passport is a marriage of convenience, the document of choice for long-haul travel. Losing a British passport in far-off lands presents few problems, a trip to a tree-lined boulevard in the capital city being the worst punishment. Misplacing the Irish counterpart presents a whole new world of suffering. An energy-sapping cross-country bus trip is more likely. That the passport issue can be defined by semantics, rather than strictly politics, can only be a good thing.

While I am still getting used to the fact I am officially an expat, it dawned on me that now - even at home, where we were once so sure of our identity - the boundaries have widened. Foreigner, resident, visitor, settler, immigrant tourist or expat - it simply doesn't matter in 21st century global living.

And as I sat there between the saris, kilts and well-tailored English morning suits, I felt strangely comforted by that.

 

M-ometer

This week's highs and lows

FASHION JUSTICE George Clooney won his case against those who used his name to start a fashion label.

NO TO THE MINI Put those pins away, Lively - it's all about ankle-grazing trousers now.

NEW COUTURE This July welcomes Giambattista Valli to the Paris couture shows.

STYLE THIEVES It seems there ain't no stoppin' London's West End robbers, who raided Anya Hindmarch and D&G earlier this month.

SINGAPORE ON THE RISE Singapore's Audi Fashion Festival this month attracted big names such as Giles Deacon alongside the country's local talent.