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On Thursday each week my column appears in the Euro Weekly News. My opinion is just that, an opinion. Feel free to put your oar in but in a constructive way if you please. Thanks so much. - Michael

11 December 2013 @ 21:30


Mike Walsh

I have long suspected that Europeans and the British are far more than fish and chips apart. Are those who retire to Europe better Europeans than those we leave behind? Are we returning to our roots? Most of England’s people can trace their lineage back to European ancestors.

However, many keep their Anglo-Saxon roots firmly fixed in what was once Celtic soil. As far as mainland Europe is concerned there is an ‘us and them’ detachment about Little Englanders.

To them, Spain appears to be a holiday theme park along the lines of the other one in Florida. Most British visitors enjoy their holidays then add, ‘but I couldn’t live here.’

Was it ever thus? During Queen Victoria’s reign it was commonly thought that civilisation stopped at the English Channel. Any ill-fated person born on the far side of Dover’s lapping shoreline was regarded as ‘Johnny Foreigner.’ An oft repeated phrase was, ‘”He’s a foreigner, ‘eave ‘alf a brick at him.’

My Great Grandmother would be as familiar with the Napoleonic Wars as we are to World War Two. Legend has it that a monkey on board a passing French ship, for entertainment purposes dressed in military uniform, survived the ship’s sinking on England‘s east coast.

Soon afterwards Hartlepool’s alarmed citizenry discovered the shivering creature. These worthy folk had been forewarned about the diabolical intentions of the French. Having little desire to speak in such lingo the beachcombers decided the hapless monkey to be a French spy.

The doomed monkey was duly questioned and its fate decided. At the close of the improvised trial, the hapless creature was hanged from the cobble mast of a nearby fishing smack.

Such anti-European prejudice was set to continue. The beastly Germans, it was said, passed poisoned sweets to children during the Great War. Dachshund dogs were stoned and in 1939, the Press depicted the same breed of dog with swastikas crudely drawn on their backs.

Is mainstream media responsible for anti-Europeanism? On November 21 the worst imaginable human tragedy in northern Europe struck. Fifty-four shoppers were crushed to death when a Canadian designed, German built supermarket collapsed in Latvia’s capital. Riga is roughly the length of Britain away from England.

The indifference displayed by British media was grotesque, its disdain for all things European laid bare. It was day two before many papers reported the story. I first heard of the scale of the calamity on Face Book and Russian media.

A comparatively minor event in America, a storm, a mall shooting or unusual murder is given far greater coverage. The UK media hangs on every word stemming from Congress whilst Europe remains the dark side of the channel. Neither European nor American, has Britain lost its identity and if so where lies its future?

NOTE: Those who find Mikes Walsh columns of interest have easy access to several hundred of them. Go to Euro Weeks News online. Click columnists then click michael walsh.

 Michael Walsh. email

Like 2


leoleon said:
14 December 2013 @ 08:49

I liked this piece about the English. I left England 40 years ago and have since worked in many countries, inc. America, Canada, Norway and many European countries. I have lived with my family in Germany and for the past 30 years we have lived in Holland.
On rare visits to U.K. I am often surprised by the lack of knowledge of other European states, perhaps covered by Xenophobia. The list of excuses why things are not done correctly is endless. As if there is no leaf fall on German railroads.
My children carry British passports but consider themselves European. They are now married with children of their own with Dutch passports. Why not British.? It was just too damn complicated and too expensive.
Do I miss England.? Not one jot.!
I do wonder though, how much the British attitude to Johnny Foreigner is at least in part, due to the media. i.e Newspapers and T.V. We are often astounded at major events in Europe that find no airtime on British T.V. Heaven forbid that it stole time from the latest celeb marriage, divorce, illegitimate birth or even the latest album.
No thanks, I am more than happy in Europe and I have no desire to return to the Western Third World.

harryfish said:
14 December 2013 @ 10:02

Interesting article.
I think the main English speaking countries have one thing in common, they all consider ignorance to be a virtue.

RobbieRob said:
14 December 2013 @ 11:02

I've lived in England, Canada, Australia, and Argentina, for a goodly amount of time in each.

My experience is, pretty bluntly, that people are people the world over. Everyone has their own problems, and aspirations.

I am currently in Australia, and contemplating a return to London in the next week or so, so it would seem that, based on my desired location, I'd suggest it's actually a pretty good place to be.

Whilst its easy to find problems with almost any place if we look hard enough, how many people go out of their way to look for the good things? And then actively promote them?

From simple pleasures (I love the Marx and Sparx mashed potato), to the more meaningful, I note today that the US had yet another schoolyard shooting. Whilst things that are "english" may seem more to our liking, lets not forget that the UK does NOT have an extensive gun culture, as our cousins the the US do. We should be thankful that we dont lose an entire town worth of our people each and every year to such tragedy.

I am half expecting an American to now jump down my throat on the grounds that guns keep bad people at bay, and it stops the government from X, Y, and Z, and if they ever get invaded theres a chance to fight back, etc etc.

You can keep it.

I'd rather the more civilised UK, rather than the wild west, and I'm not afraid to say it.

Enjoy the UK, by all means.

leoleon said:
14 December 2013 @ 11:44

Yep, you're right . I've lived in the U.S. too and it was great, for a short spell.
As are all countries of my experience. Pakistan was quite wonderful, 30 odd years ago, full of friendly , happy, helpful, hardworking and proud people. I have Pakistani friends in U.K. that are now afraid to go back to visit relatives.
Europe is by no means prefect, but we all tend to get used to the environment that we live in, good or bad. The same with the citizens. There are good and bad in all nations. Governments and the Media on the other hand are not so easily categorised.

David said:
14 December 2013 @ 13:41

Britain is part of Europe, so why write "Europeans and the British"?

steve cummings said:
14 December 2013 @ 18:49

I find this article verging on the offensive. I love Europe. I DO NOT love the EU. Does this make me a "little Englander"? I have lived in Spain for over 20 years now by the way and am quite happy here.

What exactly do you mean by "better Europeans"? Do you mean more PC, more pro EU? If so you can stick it. And I don't need some smug "suit" telling me where Latvia is either. So take your pro-EU propaganda and stuff it!

Life in Vejer said:
15 December 2013 @ 08:10

This is a good thought provoking article about the media bias on Europe. By the tone of the response from someone who finds it offensive and references the EU when the article is about Europe, one can see the scale of the problem.

There is in some quarters a scary view on all things European being bad. Equally there is a lack of consideration that you only work to improve things by being involved. The best recent example of this was the US's introverted view at the start of World War Two. Once you stop talking there is no influencing.

The UK needs Europe and can provide much needed input to the rest of Europe who must not always realise they need the input. After all it's not what you say but how you say it.

livermore said:
16 December 2013 @ 09:15

Should the euro colapse some countries would breath with relief and some other countries would enter despair. Amongst the first: Turkey, Russia, Morocco, Denmark, Argentine,...among the second: Greece, Spain, Ireland and rest of the PIGS...and possibly Germany. My guess is that the euro will survive.

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