“Your computer will restart several times. Sit back and relax…” Relax! I’ve got a column to write on this here ledge. How can I do that and relax at the same time? And aren’t these infantile messages just a teeny bit bloody infuriating? A photograph in The Observer last weekend showed a bench with a National Trust sign in front it. This featured an exclamation mark above the words: “PLEASE DO SIT HERE. It’s such a lovely spot.”
Oh, stop being so cute. It’s a bench, if we like the look of it we’ll sit down. If we don’t we’ll walk on by and find another less needy bench. It’s as bad as those buses that say: “Sorry, I’m not in service.” Better, though, I guess than: “Sorry I’m not in the mood to stop right now. Can’t be arsed.”
Anyway my laptop has been taken from me, stolen for the upgrade to Windows 10. So now I am back on the old computer. No sitting back and relaxing for this keyboard-bashing seeker after, well, not the truth so much as something to write about.
Before I was so rudely interrupted by Microsoft, I was about to turn my eyes towards Calais. I see that some of the tabloids regard the migrant chaos as an excuse to inflame ancient wounds and send the Army in. Invade France – what a splendid idea. While we’re about it why don’t we reclaim Calais for the English, as our monarchs did once claim sovereignty there? Never mind it that was back in 1346, what are a few centuries when our national pride is at stake?
As for the migrant crisis, well it does seem to be a mess for people wishing to reach France for their holidays or for business reasons. Circumstances have ruled out foreign travel this year, but last summer’s quick break to Lyon would likely have been sabotaged by what is going on now.
And behind all this, behind the political huffing, are human stories of people so desperate to come here that they are willing to endure mammoth journeys, endless suffering and possible death – all to land a foot on British soil.
Some people complain that this isn’t our problem and it’s all to do with the French. No it isn’t this is Europe’s problem and we are part of Europe, whatever Nigel Farage might wish. And if you still wish to scrub Europe from your mind, it’s the world’s problem and we are part of the world, no getting around that one.
If migrants are trying to get here, if we are the dreamed-of destination, then we have a duty to be part of the solution. And we need to come up with something better than potty notions about sending the Army in.
And surely the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants has a point when it says that the extra £7 million announced on Monday by the government should be spent in processing asylum applications rather than building higher fences. When people are so desperate, fences won’t hold them back.
Incidentally, in the time that I have been sitting back and relaxing while writing this blog, my Windows upgrade has reached 21 per cent. Perhaps I should go and find a National Trust bench to sit on. 90 minutes later… done at last!