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Thoughts from Pontevedra, Galicia, Spain

Random thoughts from a Brit in the North West. Sometimes serious, sometimes not. Quite often curmudgeonly.

Thoughts from Pontevedra, Galicia, Spain: 1 December 2020
01 December 2020 @ 11:41

Night’s candles are burnt out, and jocund day stands tiptoe on the misty mountain tops.

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable.  

 

Covid

Below, as the first article, is Private Eye's MD's overview on the UK situation.

Although folk of my age aren't due to get the jab here until March or later, it's been pointed out that, with so many folk being unwilling to have it, the dates might well come forward.

Living La Vida Loca in Galicia/Spain

I can think of fewer programs than I'd less like to watch than Junior Eurovision. But it has to be said that Spain has always done well in it, and came a commendable 3rd this week.France won but was accused of voting skulduggery. Those perfidious Frogs . .   

Feismo - or Ugliness - is a criticism long directed at Galician housing. Not the beautiful single-storey granite and wood examples but things like this:-

Every now and then, the regional government (the Xunta) says it's going to do something about it, and yesterdays' headline was that 2021 will see their 'ultimate' campaign. I'm guessing this means 'latest', not 'final'. This show will surely run and run.

I'd thought that Chaucer had made the first reference in English literature to our Camino de Santiago. But, no. Here it is in Piers Ploughman/Plowman, a few years earlier, in the late 14th century.

Pilgrims and palmers 

pledged them together 

To seek Saint James

and saints in Rome. 

They went forth on their way

with many wise tales, 

And had leave to lie

all their life after.

I saw some that said 

they had sought saints: 

Yet in each tale that they told

their tongue turned to lies 

They say that, if you lift a paving stone in Pontevedra, you'll find Roman remains. Elsewhere in Spain it's Muslim graves.

Here's María's Riding the Wave - Day 17  

The UK

The 2nd article below - by a well-known Scot - is really only for Brits. If you live outside the UK, you might be able to read it here.

The Way of the World

Apparently, if you put a full stop/period after Congratulations, you're being mean and nasty to a young person. You need to put at least an exclamation mark. And, preferably, an emoji or 5.

Finally . . .

Amusing aphorisms: 2. To me, "drink responsibly" means don't spill it.

THE ARTICLES

1. COVID IN THE UK

Vaccine to the rescue? 

THE world would be less populated and less travelled without the vaccines that prevent cholera, diphtheria, hepatitis, Japanese encephalitis, measles, meningitis, mumps, pertussis, pneumonia, polio, rabies, rotavirus, rubella, tetanus, tuberculosis, typhoid, varicella, yellow fever, ano-genital cancer and warts. The fact that only one infectious disease has been eliminated (smallpox) shows how hard it is to defeat microbes, but vaccines have prolonged the lives of hundreds of millions. As UK Covid deaths exceed 50,000, news that safe and effective vaccines for Sars-CoV-2 may soon be with us is cause for cautious celebration. It might even save prime minister Boris Johnson's career. 

Mandatory v. voluntary 

IN SOME countries, vaccination may be mandatory, and it may be compulsory for those wishing to travel there. In the UK, vaccination should remain voluntary. Forcing any treatment on a competent adult against their will would set a dangerous precedent. 

Informed consent is key. Individuals who opt in may have individual protection for as long as the vaccine lasts, but more lasting population protection will require a majority of citizens to consent to it. However, 36 percent of people in the UK and 51 percent in the US report being either uncertain or unlikely to agree to be vaccinated against the coronavirus, according to a report by the British Academy and. the Royal Society. Given such widespread hesitancy, accuracy of information and trust in those giving it will be crucial. 

Statistical approval 

THE UK government has repeatedly burnt its trust boats, allowing bias, lies and bluster to triumph over balanced argument. Its handling of Covid has been dangerously incompetent. Recently it was criticised by the UK Statistics Authority for making overblown claims about testing capacity, not being transparent in its data and getting slides wrong. As the government lurches from fear to hope, it needs to get a grip on its infom1ation giving. Statistics and slides should be independently pre-approved by the Office for National Statistics. Drug companies, too, must be exemplary in the way they release data about vaccines. 

Great expectations... and profits 

THE headline of"90 percent effective" for the Pfizer BioNTech Vaccine (BNTI 62b2) is good news, but this should have waited until all the data had been independently verified in a peer double-blind trial, with half receiving two doses of the vaccine 21 days apart, half receiving two doses 

It was "a great day for science and humanity" said Albert Bourla, Pfizer's chairman and chief executive. It was certainly a great day for Bourla, who had scheduled the sale of 130,000 of his Pfizer shares that day and made £5.6m as the price rocketed. Chief corporate affairs officer Sally Susman also cashed in shares. All legal, but appearance is everything and this was more grist to the anti-vaxxers' mill. 

If a company produces a vaccine that controls the pandemic, it-deserves its profits. But for the boss to cash in before it has been tried in the real world suggests it might not stand up to the competition. Russia then trumped the US, saying its Sputnik-V vaccine has a "92% success rate", also based on unpublished data. Modema and the not-for-profit AstraZeneca Oxford collaboration will soon release their trial results. Hopefully, with full data sets and independent verification. 

Warp speed 

THE previous record for producing a vaccine is four years, so IO months is extraordinary. Pfizer partnered with Germany's BioNTech in 2018 to develop mRNA vaccines against influenza, so they hit the ground running when China released the virus genome in January, and started on a vaccine containing just part of the genetic code for the Sars-Co V-2 spike protein. 

The aim was to deliver this mRNA instruction to the body's cells, so the viral spike protein is expressed on the surface and an immune response generated. By not using any live or inactivated virus, the hope was that side effects would be minimal (though there is always a chance of an immune over-reaction to the spike proteins once expressed). 

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave the vaccine fast-track designation on 13 July, and by 12 September it had expanded enrolment for its Phase 3 trial up to 44,000 participants in more than 120 clinical sites in the US, Brazil, South Africa and Argentina. 

Interim analysis 

43,538 participants were recruited into a double-blind trial, with half receiving two doses of the vaccine 21 days apart, half receiving two doses of placebo, but neither researcher nor volunteer knowing which they got. Researchers walled until 94 participants had caught Covid (naturally). By then, 38,955 participants had received both doses of either placebo or vaccine. An independent committee then "unblinded" the study and found that about 90 percent of Covid cases were in the placebo group. Equally importantly, no severe side effects were recorded in the vaccine group. The raw numbers, ages, ethnicity and severity of illness weren't released. The trial will go on until there have been 164 confirmed infections, but the glowing press release may make it harder to justify giving remaining participants a second  dose of placebo. All participants must be followed up for two years. 

What it means 

THE preliminary results suggest the vaccine is effective at preventing the disease of Covid, but we don't yet know if it prevents infection and transmission of the Sars-CoV-7 virus, or just the progression of infection to disease. We don 't know if it prevents serious disease or death. We will only know that when it is rolled out to more people, who will accept this is a work in progress. 

Vaccines often work better in trials real world, when they are given to older people with weaker immune responses. With Iimited supplies, the vaccine needs to be given not just to those at risk but those in whom it works and those most likely to spread. We also don’t know yet if it is safe to give the vaccine to those who have already been infected. 

Should I have the vaccine? 

MD will have a vaccine if it's approved Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). This is partly because I’ve had all my recommended MHRA approved vaccines over a lifetime, and never had serious side effects or a disease I was protected against. But I'm also prepared to take an unknowable, risk on the long-term safety of a new vaccine for my own, and the common good. I want protection from Covid and protection from passing infection on. 

The trial, and the progress that results fromit, would not have been possible without volunteers willing to take unknown risks on a new technology for the common good. To lesser extent, this will be the case when the vaccine is rolled out. Think of it as a larger trial in progress, after very encouraging early results. It should be your choice to be vaccinated, without coercion. Whether or not you have the vaccine, eating well, staying physically fit and taking a Vitamin D supplement may also reduce your risks of Covid harm. The MHRA must also investigate reported adverse events and any serious harm must be compensated. 

Logistics 

THE potential benefits of the vaccine are huge if the "90 percent Covid prevention" figure stands up in real life. It's also good "proof of concept’ news for other vaccines for Covid and many other diseases using similar technology. It could usher in more breakthroughs. The logistics are hugely complex, and if any government could screw them up, ours can. We've pre-ordered 40m doses of the Pfizer vaccine from Germany and Belgium. Its transportation is time and temperature critical. So let's hope there are no hold-ups at our borders after 31 December. 

Forty million doses will vaccinate 20m people (currently the over 50s). The army may be asked to help. GP practices and staff will apparently offer vaccination seven days a week, with hospital staff called in to assist, inevitably reducing other services. The vaccine has to be transported at - 70°C and lasts for a week in a GP's fridge. So all 975 doses in a minimum sized delivery would have to be given in a week to avoid wastage. The opportunity cost is also considerable. Research by the Health Foundation found there were 4. 7m fewer people referred for routine hospital care in England between January and August 2020 compared to the same period in 2019. GPs diverted into the vaccine programme will be even less likely to lessen this backlog, and access for routine care may become harder. How to avoid further non-Covid harms requires serious thought. 

Money well spent? 

THE government will be hoping the AstraZeneca Oxford vaccine isn't far behind Pfizer. Not only is it logistically easier (kept at fridge temperature), but-cheaper too. Pfizer will charge nearly £30 for its two doses, plus high storage costs, whereas EU countries have been offered the Oxford vaccine for just £2.23 and the UK may get a discount as the government helped to fund the research. We have pre-ordered I00m doses. 

We have already trashed the economy twice, thrown £12bn (more than we spend on general practice in a year) at a test and trace system which the government's advisory group SAGE said has "marginal benefit", and we're spending £43bn on unproven mass testing. Many contracts, consultancies and leadership jobs have been awarded without tender or interview to Tory loyalists, many of whom have no expertise in the field. And our performance on nearly every measure has been one of the worst in the EU. Now wonder we are banking on a vaccine. 

Precautionary principle 

COMPARE our predicament to countries who urgently protected their borders and controlled the virus so well that life is nearly back to normal without a vaccine, where Covid and non-Covid harms have been minimised, economies are growing and testing costs are reduced because there is less virus to test for. 

Taiwan's test spend per capita is a fraction of the UK's. A Cochrane Rapid Review of evidence looked at 12 studies on Covid-19. It found that restricting cross-border travel at an outbreak's start may reduce new cases by 26 to 90 percent, but you have to act quickly, before community transmission takes over. 

Alas, we didn't act quickly to stop border entry, we stopped testing, were forced into lockdown, screwed up testing, screwed up border control again and are now in another lockdown. Meanwhile, South Korea is not planning a vaccine programme for a year, because the virus is under control and it wants to see which vaccine works best, Australia may only do ring vaccination (of those around an infected individual), rather than mass population vaccination, but is more likely to make it mandatory. Australia and New Zealand are playing rugby in crowded stadiums with no need for masks. As one New Zealand doctor told M.D.. "Your pandemic response is like your rugby. Slow, confusing, clumsy, panicky and backwards." 

Vested interests 

ANTI-VAXXERS cite many ridiculous conspiracies (no vaccine is needed because Covid is a hoax; Bill Gates uses vaccination programmes to implant digital microchips; the virus is caused by 5G mobile phone towers ... ) But there are two accusations that need addressing. 

The first is that governments, health services, health professionals and drug companies have a history of covering up medical scandals and may do so again. This is evidently true, which is why support for whistleblowers, full disclosure of data and release of trial results only after they are independently verified is vital. 

The second is that "Covid-19 vaccinations are a plot by big pharma and scientists to make money". Bourla's share bonanza rather makes that point. Drug development is an incestuous world. Sir Patrick Vallance, England's chief scientific adviser, previously worked for the drug company GSK and holds shares. He could profit from any GSK vaccine success, but the government view is that this is not a conflict of interest since he is not involved in commercial decisions regarding vaccines. 

Many of those on the SAGE committees will have been in paid or unpaid advisory roles in drug or vaccine development, or received research funds from drug companies, charities with drug company links or government to develop vaccines. Potential conflicts of interest are everywhere in healthcare. They need to be openly declared. 

What the vaccine won't fix 

VACCINES aren't the only answer. An effective test, trace, isolate and support system is vital to break chains of transmission, but we still don't have this more than nine months after the first known UK infection. 

2. A British state of mind. Neil Oliver

I was born British and as a British citizen I will live out my days. My nationality is a state of mind and I have no intention of changing either. I know who I am and what I love – and what I love is Britain, the whole place, every nook and cranny. This is my island. No pronouncement by any politician – here today and gone tomorrow – and no referendum on this or that issue of the day will have any effect on my understanding of myself and where I belong. It makes me feel better just to put those words down on the page.

The Canadian anthropologist Wade Davis said, 'The world into which you are born does not exist, not in any absolute sense, rather it is a model of reality.' I listen to those words and realise that Britain does not exist either. Neither does England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales or any other country, not really. There are physical landscapes on the face of the Earth – made of dry land set apart from the sea. But the lines drawn and countries named are figments of collective imagination and made all the more meaningful as a result. They are what we say they are. The existence of our homelands is nothing more nor less than an act of will, and also of love. Just as creatures that once walked, swam or flew are long gone now, so there is a long list of countries that once were here but are here no longer … Sumer … Chimor ... Kush … the list goes on and on. You might say that a country is a dream shared by its inhabitants. As long as enough of the inhabitants believe in the existence of Britain, or Scotland, or wherever, then the dream remains alive and the country in question is made real. If too many people stop believing, or choose to believe in someplace else, then the dream is over and the country ceases to exist as completely as a candle flame blown out by the wind. I will always believe in Britain, come what may. That will never be taken from me.

This Britain of ours has been and remains a bright light in a dark and darkening world

The most familiar line of the Declaration of Arbroath, a letter to a 14th century Pope, concerned the necessity of 100 Scots remaining alive if Scotland were to prevail. My dream of Britain requires just me myself alone – it will last as long as me – but as many as want to are welcome to join me.

The question of whether or not Britain should continue to exist has been haunting our lives for years now. In 2014 a referendum asked the population of Scotland whether or not it was deemed a good idea to remain part of Britain, to maintain its existence. A majority said they did wish the union to prevail – 55 per cent of voters in fact. The 55-45 split is well known. Less familiar to most is the fact that of the 32 council areas in Scotland, 28 said they preferred to maintain the three-centuries-old union. Many of those councils were small, with small populations dwarfed by those of conurbations elsewhere. But we are all told, are we not, that small voices must be listened to as well as large, and that small, determined, self-confident places might know their own minds?

In spite of that decision, that clean and clear 'once in a generation' decision – that decision that both Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond swore, in writing, they would accept and uphold – the question has never gone away.

On the last page of his popular classic, Culloden, about the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion, John Prebble elegantly expressed the nature of dreams, or at least their power over us even when all seems lost.

He wrote: 'A lost cause will always win a last victory in men’s imaginations.'

The Nationalist cause in Scotland is stubborn. I will admit to understanding stubbornness, being sympathetic to the trait and also admiring of it. This is because I am stubborn too, as stubborn as any nationalist could ever hope to be. My dream of Britain will always live in me. There is undoubtedly a requirement for relentless stubbornness and determination when it comes to the question of whether Britain – the dream of Britain, that is – should continue or be blown out. As far as I am concerned it is necessary most of all to see that it is that dream that matters most. In the end it might be all that matters.

Like everyone else involved in deciding the future of Britain I have read and listened to countless thousands of words on the subject. When it comes to predicting the prospects of a Scotland alone I have driven myself half demented trying to decide who and what to believe. The nature of the border; the ownership of the oil; the currency; the sharing of the national debt; the Barnett Formula; relations with the European Union; the armed forces; the fishing grounds; on and on goes the litany of concerns, opinions, promises, accusations, threats and denials. Both sides have at times declared victory – outright victory – in the economic debate. At the same time there have always been those on the separatist side evidently of the mind that the risk is worth it – come hell or high water, it will be alright on the night. While others (with brains wired for the task, unlike my own) continue to fight that good fight, I have moved in a different direction.

I know what I have come to believe about all of the above, but I will leave that much aside. Why? Because long ago I realised that the economic argument was not what mattered to me. Dreamers of dreams and those who pursue causes, lost or otherwise, care not a jot for economics. In my heart I respect this. A dream as grand as a country to believe in, to belong to, to stand up for, to speak for, to fight and to die for is a prize beyond gold or any other treasure. The economics matter – of course they do, and for many people such is the be all and end all of the necessary discussion. I understand that and respect that. But I am well beyond making the so-called 'economic argument' myself. Just as I would not ask a mother to put a price on her child’s heart, so I will not seek to challenge, to tarnish and sully a dream, with talk of money. What is truly at stake here, at least for me, is the business of the heart.

History has been invoked – again and again and again until everyone is blue in the face (well, one side certainly). Both sides – unionist and separatist – reach backwards in time in pursuit of origin myths and superior claims of ownership of place and people, hearts and minds. This is among the oldest tricks in the book and has been tried more times than anyone might count. While trying to hammer the Scots into submission, King Edward I wrote to the Pope to assert the ancient nature of England’s claim on the whole island. Quoting historian Geoffrey of Monmouth, he said his countrymen were descended from a Roman named Brutus and that Brutus was the root of the very name Britain. Since the English were in Britain first, went Edward’s logic, then the whole place must be his by right. The Scots replied by sending a party of churchmen led by one Baldred Bisset to talk to the Pope in person. There in the Holy Father’s summer home in the hill town of Anagni, Bisset declared that the Scots were descended from Noah, that his descendants had fled Israel, all the way to Scythia on the Black Sea. One of them had married a princess called Scota who led them on an odyssey to the land subsequently named after her, bringing with her as an heirloom the Stone of Destiny upon which Scots kings were crowned ever after.

(Britain is certainly an old name – much older than England, Ireland, Scotland or Wales. It seems likely that when the Romans first encountered these islands, splashing ashore somewhere on the south coast, they asked the locals what they called the place. The reply would have been something like Prytain and the Romans’ attempt at pronouncing the word – called an ethnonym – became Britannia.)

But I ask you … Brutus, Scota – who really cares about the truth or otherwise of those ghosts now? Just as the economic argument is too shallow, so fairytales told to a Pope seven centuries ago are inadequate. Neither ghosts nor fairy tales make foundations deep enough for persuading people of the best path to take now, into the future.

The union is more than 300 years old. The coming together of Scotland and England, on May Day 1707, was hardly a happy one and no one denies it. The bride was poor and the groom knew he was being married only for his money. Unhappy or not it was to prove the best thing that ever happened to either of them. The Scotland and England that came together then no longer exists, however. This, as much as anything else, is worth remembering. Our parents, happy or not, are gone now and never coming back. It is we, the children of that union who must decide what is to be done with our shared inheritance.

More recently Scots, some Scots, have sought to distance themselves from the long years of Empire and Commonwealth. What was once cause for common pride has been recast as national shame and some of those Scots have sought to pretend, to themselves most fervently of all, that imperial Britain was none of their doing. Apparently a big boy – England – did it and ran away. This stance is so wide of the mark, the claim so utterly false, as to be nothing short of a bare faced lie. We Scots were talented and enthusiastic builders and administrators of empire – as wedded to the enterprise as anyone else and grown rich and fat on the profits in the process. If there is shame to be apportioned then it is ours as much as anyone’s. While there might be little to be gained now from knowing whether Brutus or Scota made the earliest footprints on the homelands, it is surely vital we remember the truth of all our behaviours during the last three centuries of our coupling at least – the bad as well as the good.

So much for economics and history – both matter but not enough, either together or alone. What matters is who we are now, who we think we are and who we could or should be in the future. In seeking to portray Britain and British-ness in a bad light – a corrupt and sinful enterprise best dismantled and discarded – the champions of Scottish separatism have somehow claimed the moral high ground in its entirety. Not only were the sins of Empire committed behind our backs, without our knowing (don’t you know) apparently it is the Scots, the Scots alone, that are the egalitarian, caring defenders of freedom. South of the border, therefore, lies the embodiment of all that is corrupt, selfish and heartless – the Mordor that is Westminster. It is worth noting that since it has long been unfashionable for the SNP and its supporters to openly voice hatred for England and things English, 'Westminster' has become the handy proxy. Something similar lurks furtively behind every disdainful reference to the 'London parties' by which the SNP mean Conservatives, Labour, the Liberal Democrats and anyone else that might speak up in favour of a United Kingdom.

If not economics or history, then what? How to make the claim that we, the inhabitants of these islands, are one family? In the end I can only speak for myself and from my own heart. That much is all I truly know. More by luck than good judgment, and mostly by means of the magic carpet provided by making television. I have seen a great deal of these islands. I have circumnavigated the coastline multiple times. I have criss-crossed the interior. I have seen the landscape from the sky, from the cockpit of fighter jets, vintage biplanes and microlights. I have been on its encircling waters in kayaks, battleships and just about anything in between that floats, and under its waters in scuba gear and a nuclear submarine. I have had a thorough look around. Long before the end I realised it was all one place; that the national borders drawn across it had no meaning for me and were invisible anyway. I have seen for myself how fisherfolk in Cornwall have more in common with others of their kind in Fife than either has with any inhabitants of the interior. You might say the same common ground is there with fishermen in France or Spain, but there is no denying the added strength of bonds made by shared language, shared culture, shared history, shared centuries.

I have also found it unavoidable to see the connections between the character of folk in Liverpool, Belfast and Glasgow: on account of shared shipbuilding heritage. My English father-in-law learned his trade as an engineer in the coalmines of Kent, before coming north to make the family that is part of my own. His Scottish father had worked as a miner in the pits of both the Central Belt of Scotland and in England’s south east. Both talk and talked with nothing but love for that lost trade. It was a love born of camaraderie and shared experience in an often dangerous world. Underground it hardly mattered where you had been born, as long as you could do the job and cared to look out for the wellbeing of the other men on the shift. Miners were miners.

I have noticed that differences in accent and dialect, style and demeanour, the countless idiosyncrasies providing the dizzying multicolour of the tapestry of Britain happen mile by mile, between one valley and the next, and are not all about national boundaries. Most of all, and best of all, I can say with hand on heart that I have been received with nothing but affection in every town and city, nook and cranny. Year after year, as a Scot abroad, I have been made to feel at home all over. When I toured Britain with one of my books last year and the year before, going from theatre to theatre, I stepped out onstage one memorable night in Liverpool into a welcome of cheers that took me aback so much I almost burst into tears. I have no connection to that city on the Mersey and yet I was nearly knocked to the back wall of the stage by the wave. I know that might sound self indulgent but I have to write about what I have experienced as a citizen of Britain, to make clear why it all matters to me the way it does. All of this is personal in the end, perhaps for all of us. How could I not love this place – this whole place – and so hope with all my heart that it remains one place. If so much is cut away from me I will feel the itch of missing limbs until my dying day.

I have been around enough of the wider world to know that most places are not like Britain, not at all. Every time I hear the place being run down for some or other alleged failing I want to ask, 'Compared to where?'. That anyone at all would imagine it were possible to break this wonder into pieces and yet somehow retain its fragile, precious gifts in each of the tattered remnants is beyond me. A torn fragment of a work of art is not enough. Once its gone, it is forever and we will all be diminished by its passing.

This Britain of ours has been and remains a bright light in a dark and darkening world; a magnet for humanity moving in hopes of somewhere better. When the EU was conjured into being, it copied our union in hopes of having a fraction of its success. Whatever the intention, those builders fell short of the mark. There is no EU welfare state, and German taxes do not pay for healthcare in Greece or pensions in Spain. Most of the wider world would rather it were more like us – that it might have what we have had. When it comes to western liberal democracy, ours is the original marque.

What I said in 2014 I will say again: the idea that we Scots might look on at a whole Britain in need of repair, in need of realignment and updating to cope with the future, and choose to cut and run just makes me blush to my fingertips with shame. I am a British Scot and the Britons are my family, all of them. I don’t give a fig for politicians and I certainly don’t allow my feelings about the present bunch to blind me to what Britain actually is – no more than I would let this year’s crop of midges blind me to the beauty of the Highlands. I set aside my feelings concerning the latest incumbents of various parliaments on the grounds that they – and all of us besides – are temporary tenants. These islands of ours are rented accommodation, whether we like it or not, and sooner or later we will vacate the place for new occupants. You don’t burn down the house just because you don’t care for those living in it now. Keep the house together. This house of ours is the work of 300 years (and the rest). If there are repairs to be done, then so be it. Let’s treat it like the grand home it is, and make it wind and watertight for the whole family again. The whole family. Let’s not break it into flats like a dodgy conversion job by cowboy builders.

I don’t base my decision on politics or economics or even history. I make my choices based on the responsibility I feel for people – alive now and yet to be born. I love Britain more than anywhere else in the world. With all my heart I declare that those of us born here, or who have made a home here by choice, are the luckiest, most blessed of all people. I am British. I will always be British.

 

* A terrible book, by the way. Don't be tempted to buy it, unless you're a very religious Protestant.



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