Nicola Sturgeon says she is not having Christmas dinner indoors with her parents this year. As for us, we spoke to our son yesterday and together decided that he and his wife and daughter will not be travelling north this Christmas. With a vaccine around the corner, it seems silly to risk messing things up.
In this time of restrictions, feeling the world sort of closing in around us, I have been reflecting on a wider, freer world.
I fell in love with foreign languages when I was eleven or twelve, or maybe even before that, when my older sister came home from her first day at secondary school showing off the French that she had learnt. And I could not wait for the chance to do the same. When the time came I was fortunate enough to have a bright young teacher who made it all lively and fun. A year later I changed schools and had the chance to learn Spanish as well. All the interconnectedness intrigued me, the two languages helping each other along as I learnt them. When our Spanish teacher, who by the way was a huge Esperanto fan, found us Rumanian penfriends I discovered that I could also understand bits of Rumanian on the postcards they sent. There was a whole world of interesting stuff out there.
By the time I was in sixth form I found I could read books in foreign languages too. Watching the film “A Bout de Souffle” without subtitles on a poor cine camera screen in the school hall and finding I understood less that 10% of it did not put me off. I knew I could understand people speaking because if I heard French speakers on the bus, for example, I could follow their conversation. Indeed, I was in danger if becoming a serious eavesdropper, staying on the bus beyond my stop to earwig a little more!
Applying for university, I looked for courses that would give me the maximum time in the countries whose languages I was studying. It was all part of the adventure. I had no special ambition to go and work in those countries but I did want to be able to travel around freely and understand the countries and their people.
So I find it more that sad that the home secretary, Priti Patel, was moved to tweet her “delight, after many years of campaigning,” that free movement between the EU and Britain would at last end on 31 December. As if this was some great triumph! As this article explains this doesn’t just prevent people from the EU coming and working here, or people from the UK going to work in the EU, but it causes all sorts of problems for people who have married EU citizens. Many of them, probably most of them, have had children, dual-nationality children and most likely bilingual children. If these people with UK passports were to want to return to the UK their spouses might not be able to accompany them. If the children choose to attend a university in the UK, assuming they actually can do so, their parents could probably not resettle and work in the UK to support them. In some cases their dual-nationality children have studied here, married a UK national and had children, children whose grandparents cannot return to the UK if they want to do so. All because of financial restrictions. It’s a great big mess. But Priti Patel is delighted!
We don’t need the virus to prevent travel, we have the Brexit nonsense!
On a lighter note, it seems that certain creatures might not have travel problems. I have never watched “I’m a Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here!” I’ve never understood the appeal of seeing people eating insects and avoiding insect bites. I thought it took place in jungly place but apparently it’s in Wales and they have imported cockroaches, whip scorpions, mealworms and crayfish, not native to the Welsh countryside. And there are fears that some of them may have escaped. TV presenter Chris Packham said: “If any of these species were to naturalise, we could have severe problems. And we do have a history in this country of invasive species which have caused enormous ecological damage.”
Today is dull and grey again. I managed not to get wet, however, when I ran round the village this morning, but it’s raining again now. Today might see no adventuring. Yesterday we ventured up the hill towards Dobcross, only to find that someone had stolen the view.
Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone!