Monday, August 07, 2006

Leaving the land of ……..

It seems more people than ever want to leave the UK; no surprises there then. What grabbed my interest was somebody prepared to take an interest in why……

Here are some of my reasons…..

My profession: Higher education teaching at a new university in the UK is no fun at all. In fact I would go so far as to say it is genuinely bad for your health. There are worse jobs in the UK, but most of them pay more. Secondary teaching is no fun either, but at least when you take on responsibility you are paid accordingly (and you don’t have 3 years of extra study debts as well). Twice a year my blood pressure used to hit unhealthy levels and I’d get headaches etcetera, clearly was suffering from stress related illness. It’s a wonder that I sustained any level of health at all and maintaining some kind of sport performance was an achievement of epic proportions. When it came time to leave, SWMBO (She Who Must Be Obeyed) asked why, I explained that to continue in the current post ran the risk of me ending up in pine overcoat. She got the message when I pointed out that three people had held the same post as me in a two year period and that the office of four that I shared, had turned over 7 staff in that space of time ! We re-named the office the departure lounge. The next issue was that I was unconvinced at the time that I would be better off anywhere else in the UK, so we moved…….Strangely enough to join four other ex-colleagues from the same institution at my new host employer. Mmmmm strange that…..

The cost: There comes a point at which the cost of living becomes soooo expensive that you realise you have been seriously ripped off ! At that point its time to go.

The edge: It became clear to me at different times just how fragile modern British life can be and just how far we can fall. I wouldn’t have enjoyed the ride. Nor it seems would these kids.

The non-culture; I know I was born in Bahrain and I know that I support Wales, it’s also true that I spent a lot of time as an ex-pat. But ! I was educated in Oxford and I sound like it. More importantly I absorbed unknowingly a great belief in a liberal pluralist ideas, which I still believe should be at the heart of Britain. Crickey, I was at one stage a member of the young internationalists debating the grievous nature of Reagan’s election to the post of US president. In the following years I protested and picketed with the best of them until I realised how utterly futile it was all becoming. The problem is that the tradition to which I refer has been quietly murdered. How else do you explain Iraq, ID cards, executive pay and Tony F*&^ng Blair. Blair is worse than Thatcher in many respects, at least she picked her own fights rather than piggy backing on to US stupidity. I always said that I would leave the UK when it became like the US, it has and I am not going back.

A growing sense of anomie; I began to feel alienated within the country I had called, until then, home. It hurt me to see that most of the people I met defined themselves in terms of what they drove, what they owned and what they earned. It made me feel ashamed to be part of a society so superficial.

I am rarely seduced by ex-pat nostalgia. If fact it bloody well annoys and embarrasses me in equal measure. I go to Browns Bay to get my hair cut and that’s it. I avoid the British Shop like the plague only entering to buy some Foxes Glacier Mints for an older guy who I’m sure would shrivel up and die without them. I do miss Europe, a literate tradition and years of irony, sarcasm and satire that have yet to grow amongst my generous hosts.

To my ever complaining ex-pat cousins I say; shut or pack up and piss off. I won’t miss you either.

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