Friday, 20 November 2009

What Does It Mean To Be European?

As I write we’re about to get a European President (I’m off up north to Slackistan at sparrow’s fart, so this is a time-release post). This caused me to contemplate on what gives us a European identity.

  • We have a work ethic – and yet some nations don’t.
  • Some are deeply religious – a growing number are atheist.
  • Some have stable democracies – others change their governments more often than their underwear.
  • A few have similar sounding languages – and yet many others don’t.
  • Some drink lots of wine – and many drink lots of beer.

I can’t really think of anything that binds us together, resulting in the inescapable conclusion that it’s a social construct based on nothing more concrete than geography. Not really a sound basis for a union, if you ask me.

One thing we do all seem to like – with the notable exception of the Swiss – is to beat seven shades of shite out of each other every 60 years or so.

What do you think binds us together as Europeans?

Happy birthday to my big brother - 64 today and he retired 2 days ago.

Children in Need - Dizzee Rascal & Shirley Bassey - doesn't quite work. In fact doesn't work at all. Actually - hideous!


  1. What originally bound us together in the early 1950s was the desire not to beat seven shades of shite out of each other ever 30 years (where did the 60 come from?). The original brilliance of the idea of Monnet and Schuman was that if you so tie together countries which have traditionally killed each other it makes it more difficult to do so in the future. In this sense the European Union has been remarkably successful - we belong to perhaps the first generation in centuries who have never had to fight in a European war. In my mind this is well worth the sacrifice of our monarchy (which is German), our national currency (a bit of an eighteenth century invention) and our blue passports (a Victorian concept).

  2. Surely the Swiss take great delight when we start tearing lumps out of each else will they increase their gold reserves?

  3. Alan: I hear what you say, but I think what has stopped major European nations from fighting is the fact they had a common enemy in the USSR, which has now been replaced by Al Q'aeda.

    The theory does not have any factual basis - in fact the reverse can be said to be true from so many historical instances.

  4. It's called the Roman Empire.

  5. If you live slap bang in the middle of Europe (as I do), you'll see that while there are a lot of strange dotted lines drawn on Michelin maps, borders don't actually mean much. Here at Lago Maggiore they speak Italian but the dialect has a French twang and a lot of Fench words. Ten minutes north and you're in a region of Switzerland where they still speak Italian. Twenty minutes further along they speak German and/or Romansch depending on how they feel. And just a few hours away is Alsace-Lorraine where no-one really knows whether they should be speaking German or French. What I'm trying to say is that European countries dovetail one into another more gently and more subtly than you'd believe. Living on an island, though, we Brits don't have that kind of connection with the people who live on the other sides of our borders, and perhaps tht's why we have problems undersanding how it's possible to have a Europe that works as a single entity. Now I'm going to do the washing up - plates from Romansch-speaking Switzerland, an empty bottle of Burgundy, glasses from Germany, milk and butter from Italian-speaking Switzerland, parmesan from central Italy (and rubber gloves from the Midlands, where my mother thinks I live in outer Mongolia).