Reflections

The European Project

The ideal of a United States of Europe was born of a need to control the supply of Coal and Steel, used to make military weapons. The original name is ECSC or European Coal and Steel Community, and was the brainchild of French and German thinkers and leaders, Jean Monnet and Konrad Adenauer, who wanted to make sure there was never another World War. It tunrned out the Atom bomb became the real deterrent, but the ECSC moved in the direction of economic union.

When Ireland joined in 1972, our Western seaboard was one of the poorest parts of Europe, along with Greece and parts of the south of Italy. How things have changed for Ireland. Standards of living having soared and the country ranks high among the developed nations.

Brexit coincided with me leaving Ireland for another European country, Greece. The largest number of non Greeks here are British. Very few realised Ireland would not leave the EU when the UK left. It left me with a mixture of disbelief and some anger that our nearest neighbours, and the ones that felt inclined to travel, who you would think had more broadened minds, appreciated so little about British domination of Ireland.

I became a little notorious for saying ‘there’s no such thing as Southern Ireland ‘ when asked whether I was from Northern or Southern Ireland. Most people just thought I was mad, but some loved the idea of being challenged to think the thing through and enjoyed the banter. I have toned it down a bit now, and I’ve begun to see myself more as a European.

The body language of Ursula van den Leyn showing Boris where to stand – away from her -at the press conference when they failed to reach agreement, speaks volumes. It were as if she was dealing with a child who needed to be indulged, She was distancing herself from him in more ways than one. Britain will now be just another country, with no special status in Europe.

What is it in the British psyche that won’t allow it to be one of the lads? Why do they always have to be one cut above? It’s a trend that seems to be led from the higher echelons of society, not the man in the street, who it seems is sick of the idea of Brexit and feels conned. Their beloved holdays in Spain will never be the same. The dreams of a house on a Greek island take on a legion of difficulties and I haven’t met one Brit out here who wants to leave the Union. Most of them are trying to get Irish passports.

I’m very proud to be Irish. We tend to pick up the Greek language better, having learned a second language from our first day at school and this lends a strong sense of identity. It’s all made me feel incredibly lucky to be Irish and to be here. Or should I say to be European and to be here.

Forest Bathing or A Walk

Visiting my friend in the country before all this quarantine began, I took myself off to a midland Forest for an extended walk -( extended because I couldn’t find my way back to my car). My mind was searching for nature and fresh air. What used to be called a walk in the woods is now known as ‘Forest bathing’ becasue of the infusion of fresh air from the oxygen released from the trees.

It made me remember that swimming in the sea is now called ‘Nature Bathing’ or ‘Wild Swimming’ or something. While my mother made sure I learned to swim in a pool, she refused all her life to immerse herself in water that had chlorine in it. Taking the plunge in the sea was a regular thing for us and the best way to ‘get down ‘ in the icy water was debated hotly (forgive the pun) within the family.

Halfway through my walk, I felt the ‘call of nature’ – what would we do without euphemisms? , and it made me think how strange it was that noone had given the obeying of that call ‘en plein air’ a gritty, hipster title. ‘Wild Peeing’ comes to mind. Surely the freeing experience of hunkering down among the vegetation and making sure the flow does not go downhill and wet your feet deserves some lofty title., some daredevil, living on the edge descriptive catchphrase?

The phrase ‘ Keep Nicks’ was a well worn in our house among the females. The person with that job had to warn the person peeing that someone was coming and to hurry up. Why is it that such jolly traditions and activities have not been romanticised into a desirable, coming of age experience?

In days gone by, the back field outside a pub was the Lavatory or ‘Wild Peeiing’ location and as a gesture to the rare female who was allowed a glass of lemonade, the location was ‘Where the nettles were cut down’ as a gallant and gentlemanly gesture to the needs of female anatomies.

I digress. I want to share with you what I saw as well as what I thought about on my lengthy perambulation that day. For the moment, think Fallen Branches, Beech seeds with lofty ambitions and three separate encounters with dogs, each encounter as diverse as the dogs themselves. These adventures, as well as the chat I had with a horse or ‘Equine Interaction’ in modern speak will be developed and laid out in my next blog.

Until then, we all will be no more than 2km from a lavatory so I expect no immediate break through in the eulogising of ‘ Wild Peeing’.

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