Tag Archives: Europe

Liberal England: How can a #Liberal talk to a #Hate Addict?

The wonderful Jonathan Calder has published my piece on what Europe’s oldest poem, the Iliad, can tell us about hate addiction.

How can Liberals argue with people who are getting a kick out of hate?

The Iliad on Jonathan Calder’s Liberal England Blog

 

#Europe, my country

#Europe, my country

When I was nineteen, Paula and I went inter-railing around Europe. The Berlin Wall had come down just the year before.

We splashed in the fountains in front of the Eiffel tower, then took a train East, chatting all day in English with a young man from Iceland. We stayed in the Ruhr and then in a small castle in Bavaria that was full of Yorkshire Terrier puppies. But we had to carry on East because Prague was the place to go, the recently uncovered jewel.

Being vegetarians then, all we could eat in Prague were white bread rolls, plain yellow cheese and the sweetest, most pungent tomatoes I’ve ever tasted. In the old town the statues of heroes on horseback, and the shutters and curtains decorated with hearts, recalled to us our own childhood fairytales of gingerbread cottages and earnest princes.

We wandered in grand nineteenth-century cemeteries, peered into dynastic shrines where brown and white photos showed familiar old-fashioned costumes – fluffy beards, cravats, monocles.

A history teacher and his wife and teenage son had us to dinner and spoke to us in broken English and broad smiles of delight that we could all be there together. After dinner the couple withdrew to the sofa to watch TV and cuddle unashamedly. We kept in touch with their son Jan by post-card for some years.

Paula and I took our picnics of white rolls, cheese and tomatoes to benches in the wide squares. Around us the middle-aged and the old walked slowly, almost gingerly, out from their apartments to sit on benches and talk, softly, casually, about this and that, the pigeons, the children.

We were told this was a great new pleasure for them, that they hadn’t been able to do for forty years.

The women were stout, with knotted nets of varicose veins around their calves.

Taking the train back we passed leafless forests, where smoke from soft coal had burned away the leaves.

We saw the wound and we saw it starting to heal.

#UKIP Myth 3: #Europe

Imagine if I went into the Bakehouse in St Albans, handed over a fiver, got my mocha and my change, and then started shouting, ‘They’ve taken my fiver! They’ve taken my fiver! They’re bleeding me dry! It’s so corrupt! Why do they need a manager? Look at that bowl full of tips! And all the rules! Have to go to the toilet marked ladies – so bossy – Why can’t I go in the gents? Or right here if I fancy? Have to sit at a table, supposed to sit at an empty one, not allowed buggies here, not allowed dogs there, for gawd’s sake! And look at that five pounds I just gave them! It’s monstrous! What are they doing with it all?’

I find this a useful website for facts on our contribution to Europe etc:

https://fullfact.org/europe/election_2015_europe-43684

Adventures in Tory Land: Democracy in Middle England is available as an ebook and paperback through Amazon and in Waterstones St Albans. Yours for £2. For a laugh, click here:  http://amzn.to/1GpXY1F