Monday, March 06, 2006


A Balance of Payments


A question I am still asked with alarming frequency and one to which I am still tempted to respond with a sharp left hook and an instep to the groin. It is as if I have broken some natural law, removing myself from my native environment and replanting in alien soil. The fact is that all I was really doing was pedalling my bicycle a little further than that nice Mr Tebbit had in mind when giving his awfully considerate 'Words of Advice for Unemployed People' some many moons and no few blindingly boisterous benders ago. That would not, in itself have been enough. What really tipped it for me was the fact that I realised with absolute certainty that I was among those whom he would personally have escorted to the airport. Shipped out. Passage paid. Chattering class.

Well, not actually of that coterie of playwrights, dons, television producers et al so derided by the tories of the time but certainly among an audience prepared to give as much time to them as to that other gang of playwrights, dons, television producers et al, not a chatterer among them obviously, who never earned the wrath of the grammar school classless by the simple expedient of agreeing with them. I doubt Roger Scruton, Alan Walters, Roger Ordish or Sir Alec Guinness would have made it onto the passenger list but I digress.

Anyway, the country had somehow survived the eighties but had emerged divided and quite suddenly, it didn't feel like home anymore. It wasn't that I was on the wrong side of the chasm, more that trying to straddle it while retaining my balance was becoming almost impossible.

Personally and professionally, my life had stalled and I was in need of a fresh start. England had little appeal at the time, the country was going to hell and there was bugger all I could do about it. Being there only involved me in its decline due to the simple fact that it was impossible to ignore. Can't beat 'em, leave 'em.

Now, it's a spectator sport only. I can watch the ovine being led by the bovine and all I feel is amusement and relief. Not that any of you would fall into either of those two categories, I'm sure...but viewed from afar and en masse? Leave. Abandon ship. I'm an intelligent, get me out of here.

I am now twice removed. From the blight of my native land and from my country of domicile...I will never truly belong here or be affected by it in the same way as the natives. I am indeed an island and I find I enjoy it. I have pruned my responsibilities down to the bare minimum of family and friends and have removed myself as far as possible from any...what?, I suppose. Whatever anyone, anywhere is doing, I can quite honestly and categorically state that it is not being done in my name. Whatever happens to me is almost entirely down to me and me alone.

I have a daughter now. Five and a half years old. Intelligent, generous of spirit and equally at home with the en point and the forearm smash. Do you honestly think I'd entrust her to the English education system? Naah, I ain't coming home.

Maybe not quite what you had in mind, Doc...I might be able to come up with something a little if you give me a day or two but for now my advice is of the Nike variety.

Just do it, girl.

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