I’m no patriot – I hate the way people insist that their country is great just because they happened to be born there – but I love this country anyway. It’s been a good twenty years. For nearly 7300 days (not counting holidays abroad), I have lived in this country. And I’ve enjoyed it. Once you get past the niggling little annoyances that characterize and very much define the stereotypes of the British, it’s not a bad place.
Unfortunately, the recession (or, as it’s more alliteratively known over here, the “credit crunch”) has bitten down hard, and the fact that the new coalition government has produced piss-all to get us out of it is not helping. The conniving serpents in charge of us don’t appear to be concerned with the well-being of the public at all. But then that can be said of any government.
Weather is also another major factor in why the UK is typically represented in a negative light. We’re not torn asunder by hurricanes or tidal waves every few months, but the weather’s inconsistency and incompatibility with outdoor activities is what annoys us most. You can never pre-plan a barbecue because you never know when it might rain. Outings can end in disaster if the event in question is “weather-permitting”. And the bad weather that dominates 90% of the year forces us to stay indoors, where we rot like moldy bread – then, when the extreme weather conditions come along, we are totally ill-prepared for them. “Freak snowstorm!” “Heatwave!” “Flash floods!” They’re an annual and natural process, and yet they always take us totally by surprise. It’s a bit shit. (On top of being ridiculous.)
It’s also becoming increasingly difficult to get into universities over here. Too many people are applying, so you’re not guaranteed a place even if you have flawless A-level results and have like a hundred UCAS points or whatever the fuck the system we have in place is now. Tuition fees have soared, too. When the government said they were definitely going to go down. Thanks, Nick.
There are several other smaller factors that come into how the UK’s and my family’s position has just become gloomier and gloomier, which I won’t bore you with (I’d be here all week). But all in all, this country’s rapidly going down the shitter. And we’ve had enough.
It was tossed around as an idea a few years ago, but I think by that point it had already been decided. Now it’s reality.
Having completed my A-levels a few months ago, I’ve been out of school, and the time on my own has meant that I’m just about getting used to the idea of emmigrating to another continent and starting afresh.
Now, in that time, I’ve come to realize something. It’s a sordid reality, and it’s one that a bitter person could view as something deliberately done to spite them, but I know this isn’t the case. I know that my parents have done everything in their power to make my life the absolute best it can be, but I still can’t help but feel a certain degree of remorse whenever I look back on this. My parents handle nearly everything to do with my life (I’m less of an independent adult than ideally I should be, I realize) and I am eternally grateful for their undying support.
That said, here’s the thing. I’ve noticed that with every major move the family makes, we end up an exponentially-increasing distance away from our previous location. When I finished junior school, I went off to a different secondary school to everyone else, because it was closer and (I think) got better grades… though I didn’t have a great time there, I’ll be honest. We then moved as a family to a different county, due to our house being replaced with a retirement flat (which we have recently discovered is not seeing the revenue it had initially hoped to)… and now we are emmigrating a total of nine thousand miles to another country entirely. I draw some reassurance from this, however – at least the pattern has to end here, because at the exponential rate of our distance-travelling, I estimate that our next move would be to Neptune. The pattern has still left me feeling a bit sorrowful, because I have realized that, as I’ve had to leave circle after circle of friends behind, there is never a true permanency to your relationship with any number of people you meet, no matter how close you are to them. I have one very good friend, one I’ve had since I was 7 – Charlotte – and we still keep in touch over Facebook. To keep up regular contact with her has been struggling as we have moved further away, and now direct visits will soon be completely out of the question once we’ve moved rock. We’ll still talk, but there’ll be an unignorable 9000-mile chasm between us that wasn’t there before.
So with our remaining time in this country becoming ever thinner, I’ve made it my mission to make the most of my time here. It’s about eight weeks. I won’t do anything mental like drink myself into a coma (after all, I don’t drink), and I won’t be quite as extravagant as terminally ill people who spend their last few days on this Earth swimming with dolphins, driving jetplanes, and telling their boss to fuck himself.
I’ve started off by having a look to see what kind of upcoming events are happening across this country that are worth attending – Symphony X, with support by DGM, are performing at one of two academies (which unfortunately are an hour-or-two’s train journey from my current location) here in Britain near the end of this month, and Ed Byrne, one of my favorite stand-up comedians, is going to be at the King’s Lynn Corn Exchange on 14th November (which is thankfully about a twenty minute drive). I will continue looking for worthwhile outings, with a view to making the next few weeks as memorable as possible.
My thinking is: Let’s not leave this country with a sigh of relief. Let’s leave it in floods of remorse. Let’s enjoy the time we have here to the absolute maximum degree. Let’s not take on the plane with us dismal, unhappy memories of the last twenty years (over twice that for my parents) that we’ve spent living on this small, wet, vaguely-guitar-shaped bit of rock. Let’s remember the happier times where we really pushed the boat out as vividly as possible. Bollocks to the weather, the economy and our inherent introversion. Let’s make our time left here worthwhile.
That’s enough words, so I’ll leave you with this short sentiment, and small-ish request:
Here I come, Australia.
Hit me with your upside-down hemisphere, your female prime minister, your big houses, your freakish wildlife, your 33ºC Januaries, your lovable casually racist humor, and daily barbecues.
As hard as you possibly can.