I’m feeling bullish at the moment. I just got back from a work tour of Europe, taking in Milan, Brussels and Lyon, with Germany to come. I dodged the COVID-19 outbreak near Milan by only two weeks. Well, how bad can it get? My tour coincided with the UK leaving the EU, and others have not realised that this means you can still breeze through the EU e-gates with your EU-issued UK passport. Oh yes.
Many of those I met in Lyon mistook me for a Brexiteer. Oh no. But I’m just like everyone else really. I never loved the EU. How can you love two letters that are so close to FU? You just cannot.
I always saw the EU as a single market for goods with unpalatable strings attached. Not for us the Euro. Not for us the Schengen. Not for us the French protectionism over their language. If you want to use English, use it. Shit all over it like the Yanks, but we don’t care. It’s not really our language because we stole it from Rome and other places, but it’s called English because we once ruled the world and everyone forgot that we no longer do.
Nobody rules the world any more, it’s just too big a place. As America is on the slide, and China is overwhelmed by a disease of her own making, Russia has been silent. Russia was silent over Chernobyl too, and that didn’t end well for them. Even though Chernobyl is not even in Russia.
I was told this week that the reason I was picked for my current role is my English charm. You could have fooled me, and anyone else reading these pages. I keep my work life separate from my inane ramblings, for reasons which should already be clear.
But English charm, and Welsh charm, and Scottish and Irish charm(s) is what sets us apart from you lot. We have free healthcare, at least at the point of use, which does not rely on you having a job to access. We have an okay state pension which although you cannot access until you are in your late 60s, you don’t have to work all that long to max it out. Ask a German about those two things.
With HS1 and soon HS2, we will have the two best and most useful train lines in Europe. Heathrow is the best airport, as long as you are using T5 or T2. We have the best ports in the world, and they are about to get better. We have the best fishing waters. We have small mountains in England and Scotland, and we have more beach than you can shake an ice cream at. We have dry sunny weather, sometimes, and proper wet and snowy stuff too. We have a mild climate that matches our temperament. It is never angry with no earthquakes or volcanoes.
Please remember, fellow Brits, whether you travel this year or play it safe at home, you will come across foreigners. Be kind to them. Be funny and charming. It might be the only thing left that sets us apart. This final year in the EU is your chance to make a lasting impression. Let’s make it good. Let’s make it better. Keep calm and, above all else, carry on being you.