I have been watching the reports on the Brexit “discussions” with a mix of fascination, bemusement, and horror.
Obviously both sides have their own “spin” to put on proceedings. However, it is very interesting for me reading both the British media’s version of events and the NOS (Dutch News Broadcaster) version of events. Especially as they seem to be so different.
I have a question for you though. I know this may sound daft but I will explain it when I have asked it.
Where do you think Europe is?
I am not talking about the EU – I am talking about the bunch of countries that make up the continent of Mainland Europe.
Until I started school I would have sworn blind that England and The Netherlands were the same country. You can blame my parents for this. Both Dutch and English were spoken at home when I was growing up. (My Mum had a habit of speaking Dutch and English in the same sentence – especially if she couldn’t remember the English word for something – she would use the Dutch word and carry on in English. This was great fun for me if the person she was talking to didn’t understand a word of Dutch.)
The main reason for me thinking that England and The Netherlands were different parts of the same country involved a car ferry. More to the point – me being taken out on deck before we left Harwich then being held hostage (or so it seemed) in a cabin for the duration of the crossing before being allowed out for a glimpse of our approach to Hoek van Holland.
Nope – the different number plates and traffic light sequences didn’t enter my brain. Possibly the fact that the Dutch drive on the right hand side of the road might have alerted me. I was more interested in the colour-coordinated hubcabs of the old Mercedes cars at that point though (what happened to those?).
Mainland Europe is a large group of countries each with different traditions and histories. The fact that Russia did manage to get as far as Amsterdam at some point during a war back in history may surprise you.
If I had my way we would never have had the European Union because now it seems as though some people think Continental Europe has merged into one big block.
The fact that I have friends from the Czech Republic who remind me of my Dutch family doesn’t mean I automatically think they are Dutch. Even if I did I would get a reality check when they spoke between themselves in their native Czech (if only because I cannot understand a word of Czech).
There are some words which are shared between different languages. For example – if you know the French for “purse” that means you also know the Dutch word for it and the German word for it.
I just wish the UK broadcast more programming including the different viewpoints from other countries. I also wish UK newsagents were more like Dutch ones – where you can get newspapers and magazines from all over Europe.
We are in danger of thinking the world is a lot smaller than it really is.
By the way – did you know that Dogger’s bank was actually a strip of land which linked England to The Netherlands at some point in deepest history?
It is amazing what you can learn by watching “QI”.