Take Granny On Holiday – British Minister Fails To Understand Europeans

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The basic contention of Ukip and other Brexiteers is that Europe’s a lovely place full of quite lovely people, Europeans, but it’s all a place and people a bit different from us. Thus we shouldn’t be ruled the same way nor by the same people. Not exactly a contentious supposition despite the shouting and anger it engenders.

But rather worse than this set of differences is the manner in which the woke and hip we seem to get as our own Ministers these days don’t understand those differences. Europe, especially Southern Europe, really is a different society. If we take the sort of places that we Brits usually mean as that Southern Europe they’re at least one if not three generations back in terms of social and familial arrangements. Sure, there’re things about the past which are just great, other things not so much, but it is important to recognise what actually is.

Portugal and Spain were both fascist dictatorships right into the 1970s – and thus grossly poor as a result. Southern Italy, south of Rome or, if you prefer, south of Naples, has never really got over being ruled by the younger and dimmer Bourbons for centuries. And Greece, well, still, as with those others, in a social and familial sense a peasant society. They had their own fascists too.

This makes the following all very wrong:

British families should copy southern Europeans and take grandparents on holiday, says new loneliness minister

Well, no, not really:

British families should follow the example of their counterparts in southern Europe by taking their grandparents on holiday and including them more in their daily lives, the new Loneliness minister says today. Conservative MP Mims Davies said communities have a “moral duty” to stop the elderly feeling abandoned and urged employers to give staff time off to care for their parents. In her first interview since succeeding Tracey Crouch in the Culture department seven weeks ago, Ms Davies said Britons can learn from the way southern Europeans include grandparents in their lives. She said: “Very often you will be out on holiday – a few of you in a small British family – and you will find this huge,…

And off she goes projecting her own misunderstanding of European society onto her dreams.

Recall that these societies are a generation or three back from us in certain forms of organisation. The Granpeeps are still out there, largely enough, in the ancestral villages. In a manner that hasn’t been true for us in near a century. And sure, Granny likes to see the grandkids, she’s right chuffed that her labours have been imposed upon her daughter in law. But that doesn’t mean that spotting an extended family leads to the conclusion that Granny’s been taken on holiday. Much more likely is that the holiday is to go see Granny. Off to the ancestral village or town to see that extended family as the or a part of the holidays for the year.

Sure, this isn’t absolute for peeps is peeps and near every familial arrangement you can think of is found anywhere. But the Minister is getting the cause of the effect wrong here. Southern Europeans aren’t taking Granny on holiday, they’re going to Granny for a holiday.

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Jonathan Harston
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Jonathan Harston

As a child in 1970s Yorkshire we spent most of the summer at my Granny’s (great-grandmother) in Whitby. It seemed natural and ordinary, so much so that I felt that I grew up in Whitby. In retrospect it also meant that my parents had the whole summer to themselves without us getting underfoot.

Quentin Vole
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Quentin Vole

Ditto (replacing 70s Yorkshire with 60s Lancashire). Some people (particularly, but not exclusively, Remoaners) like to claim they ‘feel European not British’. But what does that actually mean? Even geographically, Europe is a bit vague – where do we draw the boundary with Asia? (Traditionally, at the Urals, so Yekaterinburg is in Asia, and Kazan is in Europe – but they’re both in Russia, and culturally more or less interchangeable.) While Magyars, Finns and Estonians are really Asians living in Europe and speaking Asiatic languages. But it’s in terms of culture where the adjective ‘European’ proves meaningless. If someone says… Read more »