Saturday, September 15, 2018

Once There Was A Way

My wife and I just spent two weeks in Great Britain visiting both Scotland and England. We had never taken a long vacation. A week at most and usually less. Always in the States or Canada. Mostly in the mountains. And we really hadn’t done one of those in several years. Life just kept getting in the way until my wife said earlier this year…enough already. We’re going somewhere and you’re not working.

So we went to Great Britain. Both of us can trace family roots back to Scotland and England (among other places) and we decided it would be a good option for Neal’s first international trip. I’m a homer…been to every state in the lower 48 as well as Puerto Rico. I’ve also been to Mexico and Canada. But that’s it. My wife has been to Germany and Italy, so she sort of knows her way around.

No one really cares about the details of someone else’s vacation. So I won’t even go there other than to say it was a good trip and if you ever need something to put you to sleep, we can go over the 1000 photos my wife took and I can tell you all about the history of Scotland and England going back to the Ice Age. So there’s that.

But I will summarize my impressions and observations of Great Britain:

_For the most part the people are nice and friendly. Especially toward Americans and even more so toward Texans. It’s complicated and economics are involved, but the people, even the Londoners, seemed very nice and accommodating. Not as edgy and pissed off as most Americans seem to be these days.

_Most of England looks like the Mid-Atlantic or Midwest…even North or Northeastern Texas. The eastern half of England is still very dry from the hot summer and lack of rain. I woke from a nap on the train down from Edinburgh to London and south of York looked like North Texas in August.

_Edinburgh, Scotland is awesome. It is the best of Boston and Vancouver BC in one place. And the Scottish highlands are like Montana. I can see why some of the wealthy Scots ended up investing in Montana and Wyoming land back in the day.

_You don’t see as many fat people in Great Britain. While they seem to be fretting over the health of their people…. eating too much, drinking too much, lack of exercise, etc…what I saw were fewer fat bodies and people were moving around, moving around on their own two feet. It’s not hard to spot an American tourist…fat, wearing a baseball cap and eating something…and probably waiting for a ride. (If they aren’t wearing a ball cap, they might be Germans).

_I met and spoke with a lot of people. In preparation for the visit, I got off “THE Wagon” some months ago and started drinking a few beers to get in pub shape. I wasn’t in late night pub shape, but I was definitely ready for afternoons and happy hour. I also chatted up waiters, taxi drivers and strangers on the train. The people love to hear Texans talk and are fascinated by our gun culture. They will even buy you beer if you keep talking to them.

There is definitely a conservative-liberal divide over there. But my sense is that their conservatives are not as far to the right as the hard-core Trumpers and Tea-Partiers in the States. Not really a surprise. But, to my surprise, the liberals do not seem to be as far to the left as they are in the States. They don’t need to be.

While the Conservative-Liberal divide there is real, it’s not like what we see here. And I think there are several reasons. First and foremost, many of the big hot-button issues that divide the left and right in the States have been settled over there. Essentially, the left won the battles or the battles were never really fought that much, if at all.

Gun Control is a non-issue. It is what it is. And most everyone likes it that way. I ran into one guy, a biker from Wales who envied our gun culture and thought that’s how things should be. Otherwise, everyone else is comfortable with their gun situation.

Sex-related issues are not up for discussion. No one is debating matters related to LGBTQ…X,Y,Z and so on.

Healthcare is settled. Don’t touch National Healthcare. It’s not perfect and it has it has its problems. But tell any Brit how our health systems works and what it costs and they look at you incredulously and respond with words like “daft” and “madness”.

The church doesn’t matter much over there. You really don’t have the votes of evangelical conservatives pulling one party further to the right. Abortion…settled. Move on. (The Catholic Church still matters in Ireland, but I’m talking here about Great Britain).

When it comes to Global Warming, the people over there have been up against it for generations when it comes to energy. So most everyone has bought into human caused global warming and the need to reduce carbon emissions. No battleground there. (Perhaps a few up around Aberdeen Scotland and the North Sea oil, but barely a spark of resistance remains.)

The conservative-liberal divide in Great Britain is really about immigration and being a sovereign nation. More than once I heard Londoners say things like, “this is not the London I grew up in”…or “this is not the England my dad (or my granddad) fought for (or died for).” And out in the English countryside, you hear things like, “Have you been to London? That’s where we’re headed if we don’t do something”.

I don’t know enough about it to have any idea as to whether or not Great Britain can make Brexit work. And if they do, what about the Scottish independence movement and what's their plan? But, I do know that nations reach a point where they can’t go back. You can’t Exit or Secede from Reality. Dogs bark, but the caravan moves on. I think that’s where Great Britain is…as is the rest of the world, including the United States of America.

Once there was a way
To get back homeward
Once there was a way
To get back home
Sleep, pretty darling
Do not cry
And I will sing a lullaby.

-Golden Slumbers, The Beatles

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