It Tolls for Thee

I voted in the last European referendum.  I had just turned 18 and had recently come back from eastern Europe.  Visiting such places as Sarajevo in the then Yugoslavia. I saw the place were the shots that set off the first of two world wars were fired.

I imagined a peaceful Europe from the Atlantic to the the steppes  – from Estonia to Portugal.  From Iceland to Greece.  And this was when Greece, Spain and Portugal were still fascist and eastern Europe was occupied by the Soviet Union.  Some hope!

For all its faults, and there are many, I believe the European Union has done us, Europe and the world proud – and it would have been a even better place if Britain and the British had been more positive from the beginning.  No use crying over spilt milk.

I have driven twice to the Russian border through a wide a variety of peoples and landscapes –  past so much history – never having to show a passport or even to change money (except when I left Britain).

In the sixth form, in the week of the 1975 referendum, I read out part of a dissertation by John Donne in the school assembly.  Then, as now, the debate had been about jobs and prices.  But I wanted my fellow school pupils to realise that the issues before us were far more profound than commerce and trade deals – important though they were.  I doubt whether I succeeded.

Sometimes we only miss things once they have gone.


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