Well, just back from a week long holiday with my family, parents, and sister’s family. Going to an island close to Africa is considerably warmer than Scotland – who knew?
Before I clamber back into the warm, comforting ooze of creativity, I thought I would share a thought I had about travelling abroad. Now, before I go any further, I know that this is expensive and please understand this is coming form an “idea world” scenario. My son was 12 before he went anywhere near an airport because his mother and I were too busy fighting the financial fires of general existence; we still are but we thankfully have a few fire-breaks now.
Anyway, I digress.
We were in Gran Canaria at a resort which is, admittedly, a false atmosphere- everyone is there for the same reason, namely heat, food (booze) and relaxation. Normally I am a news junky and so, when we arrived at the airport, I rolled my eyes and muttered conspiracy theories at the fact the two UK flights had all their passengers funnelled through the “NON- Schengen” doors, even though we are still in the European Union. A couple of dark mutterings were made about the Spanish Government being awkward over Gibraltar.
During the holiday, I reflected back on that first arrival and thought about it. Was it really governmental silly-buggers or just a technical problem at the airport. The two border control guards were smiling, happy people and letting everyone through as fast as they could. The guard that “checked” my passport couldn’t have properly looked at it as he sneezed violently and was probably happy that I was just holding a passport shaped object, three feet away from where he sat. Contrast this with returning to Scotland and the most depressing, regimented, horrific, shambling queue of stressed humanity (my opinions may have been coloured by bursting for a pee!) and I started to wonder what the hell is going on in this world.
Terrorist attacks in the UK and other European countries seem to be becoming a fact of life but the last atrocity was from a UK born citizen who was obviously troubled; no amount of border controls and treating tourists as potential psychotic killers is going to change that. And will Brexit now mean less diversity in UK society as we add further discouragement to work here on top of a fortress Britain attitude and xenophobia? In Gran Canaria I loved chatting with the Spanish staff in the hotel (although my Spanish is close to non-existent I did try where I could- thanks Microsoft Translator) and the staff who came from the Netherlands, Italy, Sweden and Portugal. Outside the resort, the markets were alive with multiple African and European voices and I could have spent days just wandering around and talking to people bits of French, English and Spanish with big helpings of international sign-language. It made me realise that my day-to-day life is pretty narrow in terms of interaction with other cultures.
So at the start, I mentioned that this was very much an “ideal world” post in relation to the cost of travel but I am aware I am comparing a predominantly holiday destination, though there is more to Gran Canaria than just tourism, with the UK is a bit fantastical. However it has led me to make a couple of decisions shortly after getting out of that will-sapping border control queue in Edinburgh:
1) Stop putting the news on the telly as soon as I wake up- it’s 6Music from now on. “The Media” is generally an ass who see division as a way to sell copy.
2) Ignore the politics of Nationalism – unless someone is committed to making your day-to-day existence better through wider cooperation and understanding then they are not worth listening to.
3) Seek out contact with other cultures, even if it is just through Twitch or online gaming- to hell with language barriers.
Travelling to other countries and cultures is a worthwhile experience and lets you step back from your day-to-day routine and look at what is really important. Life, as they say, is too short so if you get the opportunity to travel, grab it with both hands.