Do you ever wonder what the British look like from deep within the European Union? I have inside information. I have a secret friend based in Stockholm (yes Sweden is part of the EU, and no, it does not embrace the Euro).
My friend, Björn Runngren, can be succinct. Here's his current view:
"The Scottish are leaving the UK, the UK is leaving the EU, the EU is leaving the UK."
He claims that the 27 member states of the European Union have demanded a referendum on whether Britain should be allowed to stay in. Unbelievable.
He accompanied these observations with a picture of our queen in disarray which I am not including for fear of offence, and a sequence of quotes from establishment figures within continental Europe. I have censored some of these, once again, for fear of causing offence. These remain:
· EU President Herman Van Rompuy said: “What exactly does Britain bring to the EU anyway, apart from of course your wonderful financial centre that destroyed all our economies a few years ago?”
· Jose Triano of Madrid said: “An entire area of Spain – we call it the Costa del Crime – is a no-go area for ordinary people because of aged Brits reminiscing about the Krays while sucking up our health service like Bermuda-shorted vampires.”
· German Chancellor Angela Merkel said: “Despite our difficulties, Britain does have a very important role within the EU. “ It unites the rest of us in loathing.”
Fortunately, I was abroad when his missive arrived. Not abroad in the sense of leaving these shores. No, I was out in the rain, on my bicycle, experiencing the incredibly multicultural and integrated slice of Oxford that borders the Cowley Road. My trip turned out to be so relevant to the missive from Stockholm. I did not respond directly to my friend's report, Instead I simply let my my experience of that evening speak for itself.
I am flabbergasted. I thought that we were a key part of Europe; after all we did once rule the world, sort of.
Anyway, I have just come home from the pub and wanted to contact you to describe my outing.
Tonight I went first to the Star public house near the famous Cowley Road which has everything from a Russian Supermarket to a Caribbean restaurant (Aren't we integrated).
The Star had two beers on handpump from a brewery called Compass. The brewer is a SWEDE (Mattias Sjöberg). The pub was OK (devoted to drinking and playing games). Beer, rather good and, for the UK (excluding Scotland) quite cheap.
Then, off to the James Street Tavern [my friend has been there] for an evening of Scandinavian music (how integrated is that? (And they have Galician music there sometimes (how integrated is that?)).
By my count, there were: seven violinists, two tin whistles, three accordionists, one finger-fiddle, and a bag piper (is that normal? Will he be ousted after the Scottish referendum?). The music was something we would call folky. Nice, but a little repetitive. The musicians easily outnumbered the audience.
I had an interesting conversation with a gentleman called Simon. He was the partner of one of the many violinists (she was also an acupuncturist). He was from New Zealand and last year survived the Bull Run at Pamplona, Spain (how integrated is that?)
I cycled home through the floods which were apparently caused by gay people getting married under the influence of the UK Independence party and passed the UKIP strong hold of Bongo-Bongo land as I wobbled home.
Just another interesting evening out in Oxford, Central England, United (with certain exceptions) Kingdom.
We are soooo integrated.