Travel

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.

Concrete and Conservation

When you find yourself on the other side of the globe to your only son, -me in Corfu and him in New Zealand, you give thanks for modern technology that allows you daily chats.

His work on vast concrete projects involves drastic changes to the landscape as roads are rolled out and huge foundations are dug out and filled with many tons of concrete for tall buildings.The tensions between progress and preservation, making people lives better and ruining ways of life, is never more stark.

I’ve chosen to live on an island prized for its natural beauty and exotic flora and fauna. Our chat this morning was about damming either end of a stream and draining the middle to allow a construction project to go ahead. One of his duties yesterday, was to listen to a talk on water filtering so that the drained water was uncontaminated when it was allowed back into the water system.

Before that, however, all the fish and reptiles had been removed. There’s a company that moves reptiles to new habitats. There’s a company that moves fish to new habitats. Halleluiah! Someone cares. The NZ authorities care enough to enforce these regulations and require their contruction conglomerates to employ Health and Safety officers on a range of topics to provide real education to the guys on the ground.

It feels good to know that far away, on the other side of the globe, the Earth is being cared for in such an enlightened, detailed way. This is the good news for today. You won’t hear it broadcast on any Media channel. It seems like Good News don’t sell.

Sweet Chestnuts in Corfu