These are some of my thoughts on the UK leaving the EU.
I live in the Netherlands and have done so since the year 2000. I continue to live here and I will most likely stay.
I am single so I do not have other responsibilities other than for myself. Any friends I have made have for the most part faded away died or just moved on. I am now of course retired. I do have some loose connections as far as people are concerned but nothing that fills me with excitement. Nothing seems to have changed so much for me since the year I arrived in 2000.
Since I am not a native of this country the divide that exists is purely linguistic. Even if I could speak Dutch fluently which I cannot I am told if I try to speak in the native tongue to shut up and speak English. The Dutch generally speak English very well and understand the language so any attempts at integration have failed almost from day one. This should bother me but somehow it does not.
My thoughts on that fateful day on June 23rd, 2016 were of a feeling of hollowness which is a feeling I have never had before. Lots of adjectives come to mind but none are relevant. I suppose the word speechless is the only word that really sums up my thoughts. The following weeks were agony in knowing what I should do about this new political situation. Of course, great anger in me emerged. That, fortunately, has gone away and was replaced by practical decisions I made shortly afterward. This in the year I was officially allowed to retire.
Self-preservation was my immediate concern and yes I was also caught up in the long debates that affected so many people and my thoughts were with those people who felt betrayed and helpless.
Dealing with the practical problems of finance and my pension rights were then of the utmost priority. These problems have for the most part been resolved including my right to continue to live here in this great country called the Nederlands. (if you need help or guidance on any of these two issues feel free to ask me).
Just a few words I need to make on my situation before I left the UK. I had up to the year I left (I was 49). I had a good apartment not-so-regular employment as a carpenter lots of friends respect for what I was doing. I was in demand as a singer for local choirs. Managed to complete an arts course at Salford University (A childhood dream come true) Also lots of other good things going back many years.
In this period in the late 90s, there were many people coming to work in the UK from the continent quite a few I met in the local pub. Many young women from Spain coming to works as nurses. I wonder how they feel now, such good people who risked so much to start a new life. Of course, they were young whereas I was already getting on in years.
Do I have regrets about coming over to the EU? The answer is no. As for the future for the UK and the EU that is now no more than a guessing game.
My personal view on the future of the EU is to stand firm and hope the economic realities and the social issues will prevail over racism and bigotry.
Geoffrey Cadman, 70, British, in the Netherlands since 2000
First published February 2022
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