Posted for One Word Sunday.
North Yorkshire for Europe made the best of a very bad job yesterday: a party for locally-resident EU citizens, to say ‘thank you’ for making their home here.
It was a great night, with fun, friendship … and tears. More tomorrow ….
An entry for Six Word Saturday.
I thought I couldn’t let January end without a final entry for Becky’s Squares: January Light. So here we are at the car wash.
Frankly, though, I’m not really in the mood. Not the day that the UK leaves the EU. I’m looking forward to this evening though, when North Yorkshire for Europe is holding two parties, one in York, and one in Harrogate, where we’ll be. The group’s invited EU nationals who’ve made their home in Yorkshire, so we can say ‘Thank EU 4 being here‘. We’ve already been mentioned on the Today programme, and …. well, we’ll just have to see.
…… all kinds of things about our love of Europe and our wish to remain in the EU. There are a dozen songs in the Yorkshire Remain Voice Song Book, pastiches of traditional songs, popular music staples, sea shanties and even hymns.
Sixty Yorkshire folk, all committed Remainer campaigners have arrived in Brussels to sing every one of them.
We’ve sung our way across on the overnight ferry from Hull to Zeebrugge.
We’ve had an entertaining and informative afternoon at the Comité Européen des Régions, and held an impromptu flash mob there.
Flash mob alert
We’ve practised in the park, and brought gratitude and tears to an elderly Belgian, remembering his youth, with its fascism, division and war.
And this evening, we went to Place Jo Cox, laid a wreath of knitted white roses, and sang in memory of the murdered Yorkshire MP. One of our own newly elected MEPs, Magid Magid (Green), who joined us, reminded us of Jo’s hallmark: her compassion.
Magid Magid lays our wreath
Tomorrow though, is our big day…..
Last time, we had to get to York to catch the coach to London. This time, York had two coaches stuffed with its own. Harrogate and Ripon had two, up from zero. And Leeds had upped its game from two to five.
Coach to London? Yes, to support the March for the People’s Vote. You’ll know there were about 700,000 of us. You’ll know the arguments. So let’s just talk about a fun day.
A day in which I could take few photos, because I was on Team North Yorkshire, and often doing duty carrying one end of our banner. We did sing though. All the Yorkshire marchers who could be found as we passed the Grosvenor Hotel were rounded up for a photo call. A passing marching band (there were musicians….) struck up with ‘On Ilkley Moor baht’at‘ and all right-thinking Yorkshire folk joined in with lots of enthusiasm but little melody.
We talked. How we talked. We made common cause with voters from Jeremy Corbyn’s constituency, from Devon, from Northumberland, from Leicestershire – the banners proved that no part of the nation was unrepresented.
And we carried flags. EU flags, Union Jacks, Yorkshire flags, Italian flags. Progress was slow. We snuck off to coffee shops (staffed by Italians) and pubs (staffed by any and every nation) for a quick breather and still easily regained our places.
Have you ever tried to fit 700,000 people into Parliament Square? No, can’t happen. In any case, thousands and thousands of us were still marching as the speeches started, as they continued, and after they had finished. That was disappointing, as last time, I’d been inspired and energised by so many fired up and dynamic contributions.
Instead we got street theatre. Anarchists on wildly decorated bicycles, a Boris Johnson look-alike, a tricycle. It was, despite our serious purpose, lots of fun. And tiring.
But I’ll end on this story, which makes me in equal measure sad and angry.
On the bus down, a French woman who has lived in the UK for 32 years told us that she no longer feels welcome in the UK, has suffered abuse, and has been told to ‘go home’. She’d always previously loved Britain’s diversity and felt us to be accepting and tolerant.
And sadly, after two years of this different treatment, she’s decided she and her British husband have had enough and they’re moving to France. Even though she has considered Yorkshire her home for over 30 years. This is not the first time I’ve heard tales like this.
It’s no secret that I voted Remain. But nobody, however they voted, seems happy with how things are going. If you believe that, having been given the chance to vote on continued EU membership, we should now be given the opportunity to vote on the Final Deal (including an option to remain), please write to your MP. Here’s how.
Click on any image to see it full size.
Strasbourg, focus of Franco-German emnity since the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871, changed hands four times between then and the end of WWII. It seems fitting that this city, the focus of so much strife and discord, should now be a seat of the European Union, a body which for all its differences seeks to foster cooperation and work towards mutually agreed policies.
After a too-brief visit to Strasbourg itself (and we’ll be back – what a city), there we were, at the vast complex of the EU Parliament. It offers employment to armies of staff who support the 751 MEPs from the now 28 member states. You need someone who can offer simultaneous translation from Polish to Greek, or Hungarian to Portuguese? Best look here.
And then we went into the Parliamentary Chamber. The debate was about immigration, the contributors from every corner of the EU, and almost every language (those simultaneous translators in their glass-walled studios were kept busy). Views expressed ranged from the near-fascist, to the liberal, moderate and inclusive. Nigel Farage wasn’t there. Funny, that.
And I left feeling more wretched than I have since the dreadful morning when we woke up to hear that the UK – by the smallest of margins – had voted to leave the EU.
It’s by no means perfect, but here in the EU we have a body fostering almost Europe-wide cooperation rather than conflict, working towards common progressive employment, economic, environmental and human rights practices. And we plan to leave? What for?
We’re in mainland Europe again, briefly. Our two Labour MEPs for Yorkshire and Humberside host a group visit to the European Parliament every now and then. So we had to sign up. Last chance saloon.
And after a night on the high seas, a day in a coach, here we are. Not in Strasbourg, not even in France, but nearby, in Germany, in the Black Forest. Watch this space.