How many migrants to and from Europe, Canada, the USA, Australia, and New Zealand have had this experience:
They’ve migrated and worked and saved and succeeded in the new country but always hold a dear memory of the old land. This homesickness has been acute in the first couple of years but worn off somewhat after that – what with new careers, families, and homes. But it starts again at about 15 years and they decide to go back and see the old place.
They plan to make a big trip and see everywhere they used to live – and possibly everyone they used to know. The get on the plane or ship and float on water or air to the old home country. And are horrified to find that it is not there.
Oh, the dirt is still there, and in the case of a lot of places it has crawled halfway up the buildings…but the society and people and nation has so changed from what it was that they are strangers in a wasteland. Worse – if there has been a war go through the place – or a spate of developers – even the buildings they knew do not exist.
Their old friends are dead, or older, and do not have the last 15 years of shared memories to talk over. Only the past – and that can be as dead as the dust. They run out of conversation in 5 minutes. Even if the old language is the same, the speakers are not talking to them.
This is the thought that I took back to the UK when I visited in 1995 – from having once lived in the place in 1973. It was just that way, though there were plenty of tourist activities in which to immerse myself. Would I get any benefit from another visit? Yes, if my current interests could be pursued – the UK is a nice place.
Canada or the USA for me? After 52 years? There’s a big question. An expensive one to answer, too – especially with the fear that seeing my youth gone would age me more. I can do that right now at local prices and wearing comfortable clothes.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Court of Christmas Justice would like to welcome you to this afternoon’s execution. We have prepared a criminal for you and will be dispatching him shortly in a spectacular manner.. But let us give you some of he details of his crime before the headsman takes over.
As you know, today is Christmas Day – a festival day dedicated to kindness and good will towards all. It is also a time when good things are eaten and drunk, often to excess. Boxing day sees many a floor being vigorously scrubbed. There are traditional foods and drinks that bring happiness to all – and one of them is plum pudding with brandy sauce.
Now no-one would accuse the well-known hotel of being stingy with their celebration – they put on a magnificent buffet within their main ballroom and made sure that there was enough wine, beer, soft drink, and other goodies to fill all. There was music, Santa, attentive staff, and an atmosphere of jollity. Indeed, their dessert line was as long and as replete as anyone could ask for. And they essayed plum pudding with sauce.
I suppose we should have taken warning from the sign that referred to the beige liquid next to the pudding as ” Sauce Anaglise “… It may well have been. I have never visited Anaglise but they may slurp this stuff from tureens. The awkward part is that someone may have thought it to be brandy sauce as the English like it.
The English are a sturdy race. I admire them for this. They can stand a great deal of fire. And they like brandy sauce for their plum pudding that needs to be served with care. They are wise people.
The beige liquid, on the other hand, resembled something that you would normally consult a colour chart for. Come to think of it, a good semi-matte indoor emulsion would probably have tasted better. One would have been prepared to put on two coats.
As it is, we have determined which chef made the sauce and he is waiting in the tumbril for his march up the stairs. Those of you in the front rows may wish to cover your plates when the time comes in case he splashes. It is not so much the fear of blood as the horror of beige liquid.
Well, that seems to have gotten rid of the trickortreaters for another year. In this neighbourhood they are organised into parties with adult supervisors to oversee the visit. Nearly all are dressed up – some in quite elaborate costumes – and they all seem delighted with the mini-chocolates or snack bags of chips.
I’m happy to participate and the organised nature of it, with a clear flag to be tied onto the letter box indicating that we are trickortreat friendly, makes it a breeze to deal with. None of the kids are mean or rude.
I have fond memories of this in Canada as a child, though scooting through twilight streets in Calgary in October wearing a bed sheet could be a pretty cold experience.
Others tut-tut it…generally complaining that it is a cultural invasion from America that threatens their very British discipline and good manners. Yeah. That’s what it is all right. Those Americans again. Trump. It must all be the fault of Trump. Prior to this it would have been the all the fault of Eisenhower or Truman. So hard to get that nice stiff British upper lip like before the war…
Perhaps a cathedral service and then a dinner round the pub, or a punchup, innit?
Now that the Brexit business is moving forward and the economic and legal toils that Great Britain wound round itself in European Common Market days are slowly being removed, the question of which way forward for the realm occurs. And we of the Commonwealth need to think through the business of re-integrating the British Isles into our structure.
Of course there is no question of unsettling the monarchy. Neither history nor the women’s picture press would be served by this. We will accept the succession without too much of a fuss, provided the succession pins his ears back and doesn’t make an arse of himself. Even then we have now seen what Justin Trudeau behaves like so anything under that is fine.
The British military, naval, and air forces are welcome any time. I am hoping for a battalion of ghurkas as guards for the local railway stations.
We will be delighted to extend tourist visits to GB citizens provided they are prepared to do the same for us, but it would be wise to make sure that both streams are looked at carefully as they pass – there are enough dodgy illegal entries as it is.
And then perhaps we can consider the business of re-establishing the chilled mutton and wool trade and the re-entry to Australia of British-manufactured goods. I want a Hillman or a Humber.