Monday, 25 December 2017

What's wrong with Bognor Regis?


I must confess there are few things I care less about than the colour of my passport. In fact my passport is something I rarely give any thought to. More often than not it's just an identity document in order to gain security clearance to work on MoD projects. I've only used it to pass through a port three times in the last ten years.

It's not that I lack the ambition to travel. I just never have the time or the money. Then as far as European travel goes, I'm just not all that excited by the idea. One European city is much the same as another. Apparently, though, this makes me a lesser species in the eyes of remainers.

As Spiked Online notes, the hysteria over blue passports reveals a sickening remainer pathology. As one specimen tweets "Weird that the people most happy about #bluepassport are the people who don’t travel further than Bognor Regis".

As it happens I don't often travel much further than Bognor Regis, largely because it's on the outer edge of my single day operational radius if I'm setting out from Bristol. As it happens I prefer Lyme Regis because the pork belly roast at the Royal Standard is sublime. But then on any given day off I have plenty other destinations to choose from.

Last year on a whim I ventured out to Pembroke Dock whereupon I discovered the Flying Boat Museum, which is a memorial to Pembroke Dock's history as the world's busiest port for flying boats during the war. Home to Sunderland flying boats, the port played a pivotal role in the Battle of the Atlantic. I didn't know that. It gave me some reading to do.

On the drive out you pass Port Talbot and what is left of the steel works. The port there was once an industrial gateway to the world. It is still an active port. That was worth a look. As were the Napoleonic era barracks and forts along the Pembroke coastline. So too was the artillery range further along the coast. Where else can you see Challenger tanks firing live munitions?

Then there's other days where I might venture down to Weymouth and Portland. I recently discovered Castletown by the remains of HMS Osprey, where the D-Day embarkation ramps remain in tact and a piece of Mulberry harbour is moored just offshore. In its own right Portland peninsula is a fascinating drive out. The prison built into the rock face is like nothing I've ever seen. Nowhere will you get a better view of Chesil Beach - a unique shingle beach spanning the Dorset coast.

I'm also quite a fan of Portsmouth. I've had a few nice days out there in recent years. The submarine museum, HMS Victory and then a ride out on the hovercraft to the Isle of Wight. All along the south coast there are hidden treasures. Henry VIII's device forts, the fishing village at Beer, Lulworth Cove, The Tank Museum and the cliffs at Sidmouth. It's taken me a few years to get round all of it and I still haven't seen it all. 

Being that I'm from Yorkshire, I've also done just about every road in the north of England. Setting out from Bradford, within a couple of hours you can be high in the Peak District, the Cumbrian lakes, Spurn Point on the Humber, or deep in the Yorkshire Dales. Castles, cathedrals, ancient ruins, windswept beaches - we've really got it all.

Now I could, if I saved hard, fork out the money for flights and hotels to do a week in Berlin or Rome, but that would come at the expense of not being able to explore where I live - not being able to sit with a pint by the harbour watching the fishing boats come into Falmouth. Too high a price for me. 

I know plenty of easyjetters who like to plaster their social media accounts with pictures of European cities. That's their deal and their choice. Unsurprisingly, they are nearly all from London and would have a panic attack if forced to travel outside of the M25 - and have probably ventured no further north than Milton Keynes. People whose sole definition of the UK seaside is Brighton.  

I am often told that travel broadens the mind, but I see no real evidence of that from the humblebrags I see on Facebook. As it happens I find easyjetters to be among the most superficial and shallow individuals I know. People for whom a passport is just a travel document and not indivisible from citizenship and all that British citizenship confers.

As it happens, you will be hard pressed to find anyone who really cares what colour their passport is, but the subordination to the European Union - emblazoned on passports is more than just symbolic. It stands there as a reminder of something that was done to us without consent. Meanwhile the reaction from remainers is once again not rooted in a principled devotion to the EU, rather it is an expression of grief that they may experience some minor administrative inconvenience at the airport. 

As it happens this is all the daftest of remainer histrionics yet. It is highly unlikely that Britain will install a draconian system of border checks, and as far as casual travel and work goes we will end up with something akin with the EEA or Switzerland. It wasn't even that laborious prior to freedom of movement and enhancements in technology will remove most of the extra burden. It's not that big a deal.

Reamainers will only see this in terms of the rights lost. I have yet to encounter one who sees it as an exchange for the repatriation of decision making and greater accountability. That is of no value to them. We are dealing with people who don't see a problem and would refuse to see it to the end of time. Their personal convenience trumps all other concerns. 

This is where I have very little sympathy and start to think that maybe things should be a little less convenient. It may very well change some of their habits and attitudes. If these people knew this island half as well as I do, they perhaps wouldn't despise it and its peoples as much as they clearly do. That may go some way toward healing the divisions the Brexit vote has exposed. 

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