What does ‘being English’ mean? Talking about the weather, drinking tea, Sunday roasts, village cricket matches, appreciating the changing Seasons? Now there’s a thing, do you think the change from season to season becomes more blurred each year? As a child we had definition: one minute it was short trousers under blue sky summers, next we were kicking up autumn leaves on the walk to school. Sleeping hedgehogs and stinging ears (often the result of a well-aimed snowball hand crafted in wet woollen gloves) told us that Christmas was coming and then, as if by magic, snow and slush gave way to the glorious birdsong and blossom season of Spring and hearing your dad remark that ‘the grass will need cutting soon’
Right now it’s the middle of January, no signs of snow and it’s a grey and damp 9 degrees outside. Mind you in the Alps they have an unusual amount of snow, according to a presenter on the morning breakfast show. I say ‘according to the presenter’ because listening to the interview of a local ski instructor at the site of one of the biggest snow falls, the instructor casually reported that they’d had ‘a bit more snow than usual’ and ‘some residents have not been able to leave the village for two days’ the more the presenter sought to achieve a dramatic headline the more the instructor under played it. Foiled the presenter gave up and in an effort to regain dignity and drama concluded by reporting that other areas had also been badly affected.
Looking back over the past 45 years of changing seasons I can report that being in the EU, for me, has been a great experience, not all good and not all bad. I think this period in our history has probably made us all think a lot about ‘being English’ perhaps this is something we had not given very much thought to before we joined in 1974. So, having effectively given ‘being English’ away when joining the EU, two and half years ago we voted to take it back. Is that because we, the English, belong to a union called Great Britain and know for sure the difficulties that in itself brings?
On my part, at this time, the seasons are well and truly blurred for it appears that conditions of the scale we are all witnessing bring out the worst in our members of parliament. Watching the vote taking place to decide on the exit deal this week reminded me somehow of the snow in the Alps - and the wolf packs that hunt there.