Archives for category: England

Any Brits want to join me for a disturbing read?



… the security guard at Gatwick Airport greets you with “Hello, my darling!”

Down here in Cornwall, you’re more likely to be addressed as “my lover” or “my hansum”. And all this in a culture with a reputation for being reserved.

… having crossed the Sahara, the Mediterranean, the Bay of Biscay and the Channel in brilliant sunshine and blue skies, the plane begins its descent into a thick England-shaped cloud that exactly fits the contours of the coastline. Bill Bryson called it our tupperware lid.
But the fields of Sussex are green like nowhere else.

… you have to turn plugs on before they’ll work.

In the past week, two African friends have made the same comment about Brexit : “Why doesn’t your Queen intervene to stop it?”

If only.

An old, mad, blind, despised, and dying king,–
Princes, the dregs of their dull race, who flow
Through public scorn, mud from a muddy spring,–
Rulers who neither see, nor feel, nor know,
But leech-like to their fainting country cling,
Till they drop, blind in blood, without a blow,–

A people starved and stabbed in the untilled field,–
An army which liberticide and prey
Makes as a two-edged sword to all who wield,–
Golden and sanguine laws which tempt and slay;
Religion Christless, Godless, a book sealed,–
A Senate—Time’s worst statute unrepealed,–
Are graves from which a glorious Phantom may
Burst to illumine our tempestuous day.
Shelley wrote this sonnet at another low point in my country’s history, and some of the sentiments in it express how I feel following Brexit. Shelley was writing in response to the Peterloo massacre of 1819, where the British cavalry charged on citizens demonstrating peacefully for parliamentary reform. Fifteen people were killed including a two year old boy. The massacre was followed by a heavy-handed government crackdown on media and public gatherings. 
Let’s be thankful that, two centuries later, if nothing else, we have freedom of speech, and let’s cherish that gift.

Like so many others, I reacted with stunned disbelief at the result of the Brexit vote. I think it’s the stupidest, dumbest political decision I have seen in my lifetime, truly a major disaster for our country. I don’t want to be a citizen of an insular, self-seeking, flag-waving country that postures as a world leader while being out of step with its 27 immediate neighbours and mistrusting anything foreign.
One of the strangest things about this strange week is that I arrived in Lomé on the morning the vote was announced and since then there has only been a minimal internet connection here. So I haven’t been able to access any news on the web, express my anger on Facebook, sign petitions or look up the links friends are sending me. I’m feeling curiously cut off from my home country at such an crucial time. I’m purposely writing this at 2am in the hope that it will post. Can’t wait to get back to the village where the technology is more reliable.

A curious moment as I joined the ‘European Union’ queue at passport control and realised with dismay that it might be the last time I ever do so. I sooooo hope not. I’ve left Dad with clear instructions what to vote as my proxy.

Having fun catching up with old friends Justin and Ali. We go back a long way, we were in London together as students. Sleeping in a caravan in the garden. Cozy. They have a Yamaha upright, so I have been providing some rusty, unconvincing renderings of Chopin Waltzes (B minor, E minor, F minor, Eb major…). Do I miss the piano in Africa? No, but once I am in a room with a piano in it, my fingers are itching to get to it. About to go and eat in the garden…

Just snuck to England for a week to present a paper at a linguistics conference. Just a quick hop across the Sahara, after all. Arrived to find Sussex bathed in late summer sunshine: England at its best.