… my love for England – and my brexasperation …

The Alps of Bavaria stand in bright glory or shrouded in mist, depending on the mood of the weather. Their snow-covered peaks were the dramatic panorama of my childhood, and called me beyond horizons, first east, then west.

Already as young woman, drawn by friends and circumstances I’ve lived and studied in England for stretches of time, until in 1979 I settled for marriage and motherhood in the hills of Somerset.

my mother

A special five year period of my life ensued, a calming respite after intense professional years, thrilling adventures and travels. The laid back ambiance of the English countryside offered precious time with my son, opportunity to grow my own food, bake my own bread and strike up tender friendships with neighbours. Our parents visited us from Holland and Germany to welcome their grandson. 

 

 

My dad, who normally travelled south, couldn’t withhold his poor impressions of England at the time, gathered, it must be added, along motorways. His comments: … brown water for coffee, fatty food, filthy toilets, shoddy service, and so on … seemed to underline his disapproval of my life-choices. I told him culture thrives in cities, like London. Rural life moves in slow motion here. The home birth of our son brought the first child into this Hamlet for decades. We were novelty.

However, every small region has its old guarders kicking in when a non-local challenges the status quo. My attempt to save a small oak forest from clear felling met with some success and equal scorn. A tit-for-tat exchange of articles in the local paper was educational – if you can’t stand the heat get out of the kitchen – was the response to my well researched ‘save the oak wood’ warrior call. I countered – why not open a window. The Woodland Trust got involved, a spread in the Sunday Times followed. Politics were never my calling, but I became an activist over trees and was invited to join the local parish, all educational. A day before the clear-felling licence expired, the chainsaw echoed among the green chasms of surrounding hills.

It made my blood boil. The communities I had mobilised were only a little short of the sum arranged for a purchase of the oak wood from the greedy owner. Outsiders (migrants) tend to have a naive understanding of local power structures, but hey, they can have the guts to ask poignant questions.

The 1980’s were marked by rapid technological changes. We moved closer to London. The world was webbing up. In rural England, within a few decades, fruit meant more than apples, more than two kinds of potatoes were on offer, bread surpassed Home Pride’s white sponge, spices arrived, salads, mushrooms, avocados, berries, olive oil, proper coffee, pasta, ice cream, good wine. Books from around the world arrived, translated. Research from beyond the island enriched sciences, organisations, education, services, construction … an invasion of culture, colour, knowledge and other traditions, other, other, other … progress gripped the world … good, good, good … but, but, but – technology also steamrolled traditional jobs, pride in hard work was fading, rents and house prices soared, entrepreneurs and those already rich prospered and the rest had a hard time, some never catching up. This was – and is – not just an English trend. When change is inevitable, creative adjustments are needed.

But let’s find a scapegoat, eh?

The simple blame game is destructive for any country these days. Europe needs ingenuity. Its territory has cultural learning stored in deep roots, like the giant oak trees worth fighting for. British humour and diplomacy have much to contribute to a sustainable Europe that, nobody is arguing, must adjust.

This is my view.

Wake up Britain, and imaginatively address the global phenomenon, or, I fear, you’ll be nibbled apart by giants across the ponds.

Click here for a few practical issues re: Brexit, by Ian Dunt.

And here my post from 2016 that relates.

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26 Comments

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26 responses to “… my love for England – and my brexasperation …

  1. Boy, Ashen, my heart goes out to you and your country. The U.S. is in the same state too. Watching the changes in the world are terrifying. People have forgotten the value of the small business. Plus, here in the U.S. government agencies are inadequate at their over-sight, service, and knowledge. The tariff war will impact so many of our small businesses too. The future will be interesting. I PRAY for all of us. Your posts were ‘right-on1’

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ah, my heart goes out to you, too, Gwynn. I think of my American friends and shudder what they must go through. And blown up by the media of our time the whole political scene becomes a soap opera. The serious issues that need addressing worldwide have become virtual entertainment.

      Liked by 4 people

  2. I admire your ability to be true to yourself.

    I, too, as an Albion adoptee, am heartbroken for this country I love. I hate seeing it destroying itself like this.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Rob

    Well said Ashen! As a native born and bred Brit I fully get your frustration. As it happens I just had a conversation with an elderly, warm-hearted and very decent friend who voted for Brexit. He sincerely believes that a hard brexit would hurt the EU economically as much as the UK. At the same time he complains about the dominance and aggression of US corporations and how they are working to take over the NHS.
    Whatever the undoubted shortcomings of the EU, I’d much rather have that as my main trading partner than Trump’s US.

    I would say that a majority of people in the UK have a pretty scant knowledge of history, of the contemporary global economy and of the actual power and standing of this little island at this point in history. And such knowledge as they have is often distorted by the lens of the British imperial myth.

    When I was a kid, my grandfather gave me book which he had had when he was young. It was called, “Boys’ Book of the British Empire”. I reckon that’s about the level of historical, economic and political expertise a substantial proportion of the British population bring to bear on the Brexit issue.

    I once heard Brit who lives in Berlin say this. ” The Germans, by and large, look at history to learn. The British, by and large, look at history to comfort themselves”.

    Go well

    Rob

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Politics is argument – which means the use of various persuasive means by which groups vie for advantage of interests which may conflict with the interests of other groups. In the United States, two such groups met and fought a civil war over one side’s request to “exit.” Nothing at the time apparently could persuade against the taking up of arms to resolve the conflict of interests. But usually the stakes are smaller and concessions and compromises keep civil the envious groups (for to vie is to envy, and to envy is to challenge). We must continue to try to influence (persuade) through the use of logos, ethos, and pathos, exposing where we can fallacious thinking, keeping in mind that each individual person is an audience with presuppositions and assumptions that probably need to be questioned but without emptying the discussion. The work of argument is never done.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hello Ashen, this world is at a strange stage or phase in its history. While life is never meant to be certain, there is something especially unsettling about all the goings on. I’m sorry to hear that you all were just a little short of cash to buy the oak wood forest and thus save it from its ruin .. that would probably have felled me.

    Yes, progress on all fronts is daunting. There is always the danger of excess with hidden agendas. Thank you for this post, well articulated ..

    Liked by 1 person

    • Happenings round the world are hyped by a fast interactive media like never before, all difficult to digest, like a stomach would revolt when stuffed with too much trash food. The next fad will be media diets.
      The failure of saving the oak wood was a real downer.
      I felt – and feel – passionate about trees – the standing people …

      Like

  6. My heart goes out to you, Ashen. I have the same feeling about what’s happening here in the US. Thank you for your thoughts.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Beautiful and sad. My blood boils, too, whenever I see yet another subdivision plow over farmland or a wild field, while house after house inside the city’s left to rot because no one can be bothered to reuse an old space.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I relate to so much you say, Ashen. Thank you for your ramblings, and it’s good to have a little insight to your life

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Jane. Yes, I used to stand up for things I value … nature, woods, mothers, parenting, mental health, community places … It’s now up to a younger generation to finds ways to turn around the dehumanising trends.

      Like

  9. England/UK needs Europe. I need Europe. I’ve lost a long term sound design gig in France because of Brexit. Insanity prevails. Most of the old idiots who voted for the racist Brexit are dead now; other who believed the lies are in hiding.. We need a second shot at the truth and stay in the EU. A no-brainer for anyone who has eyes that see. You’ve written a post on WP that makes a great point ~ George

    Like

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