When I was a boy growing up in South Glasgow in the 80s I used to listen in to European radio stations in my bed before I went to sleep. I even got a special shortwave radio for Christmas that had a micro-tuning knob to better track the shifting broadcast signals. (You're right, I don't have a girlfriend. Happy now? Can we continue without those snide remarks, please? Thank you.) The randomness of AM broadcasting meant that I listened to whatever happened to have good reception. Sometimes that was Russian state radio reporting in English about increased tractor production in the Urals and Breshnev's visit to a flower festival in Fergana. When the earth's magnetic field was conspiring against global communism I would listen in to random Belgian, Dutch and German pop stations. The DJs came from the same school as Glasgow's very own Tiger Tim Stevens but the strange words and not-quite-right pop music kept me hooked in a way that Radio Clyde never could. If one station faded out I could spin the dial a few degrees and choose from 20 others. Just imagine all that life out there, a world far beyond Calder Street swimming pool, Friday night Boys' Brigade and my Gran's potato croquettes.
Europe has always felt like a strange home to me, simultaneously exotic and familiar. Can you imagine "Trans-Europe Express" if you replaced all the stops with Hull, Manchester and Kirkcaldy? Yet, when you go on a Trans-Europe express it isn't all that much different from a train journey across Scotland or from Glasgow to London. Sometimes the train stops in a major city, sometimes you go past some fields or spy a mountain in the distance or find yourself staring at an abandoned factory complex. Despite that, I still have a sense that European train travel is impossibly glamorous and refined. Just last week I saw the overnight Zurich-Prague train about to depart Zurich's main station. With the advent of cheap air travel it seemed like a journey backwards in time as well as to the Czech Republic. You can imagine that it completely made my evening, thinking about the complicated politics of the train and the positive changes it must have seen since the fall of communism and the end of borders in Europe. I could even have jumped on that train without needing to go home for my passport. What a time to be alive. What's more, Brexit doesn't affect the train or my ability to jump on it and enjoy the journey. Let's take the positives where we can.
Anyway, so much for my trip down memory lane. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did because it it's time to get back to 2016 and see what is going on in the here and now. Urgh, it doesn't look too good.
|Careful you don't set fire to your shirt, there.|
It just occurred to me that you never hear anyone come right out and say that being an EU citizen is f***king great. Nobody ever says that and I'm at a complete loss as to why. The Remain campaign lost because nobody could bring themselves to talk about the positives of EU membership. Seriously, if the Remain campaign had been marketing ice-cream they would have focused on how brushing your teeth regularly can counteract the dental decay caused by all that sugar. After that they would have yelled at us that we'd be glad to have ice-cream if we lived in a world where the only available food was ice-cream. Imagine that, we would theoretically all die a horrible and lingering death if there was no ice-cream to save us from starvation. They would never have come out and said that ice-cream is basically awesome and comes in a range of delicious flavours and don't worry too much about your teeth because plans are being discussed around Europe to limit the sugar content and set minimum standards on dental floss.
This has been a meandering post, hasn't it? Hey, it's a holiday weekend, my brain is too hot and sometimes I just like to prattle on about trains and radios. Don't worry, though, as promised I'm going to really get to the point now. If you are a UK national working in or around the EU there needs to be a plan A and a plan B. The plan B is finding out about EU Blue Cards or how to get citizenship in your chosen land. I've touched on some of that already and it is
Scotland might soon be faced with the choice of staying in the EU or the UK. If Scotland is to remain in the EU then there will need to be a campaign to promote the values of the EU and demonstrate that EU membership is completely ace, despite all its faults. Think of it as a popularity contest that the EU must win. It will now be the purpose of this blog to pursue plan A as much as plan B. So, expect posts about the working time directive and the ERASMUS scheme, the ECHR and the ECB. There will still be meandering trips down memory lane, links to pop videos with semi-appropriate song titles and not-hilarious anecdotes. Boy, this is going to be a thrilling journey.
Over and out,
PS Drake is no longer Nr 1 in the hit parade. Are we entering a new era of consciousness?
PPS You're probably thinking, "17 posts in and he just worked out what his blog would be about?" Well, that Brexit result really knocked me for six. I think everyone is still working out how to react.