An unusually serious blog post (by my standards):
As I try and stitch as many of my holiday snaps as I can into my threadbare running stories the overriding feeling I have of our adventure riding the rails was that the freedom and joy we felt was in stark contrast to the unfolding refugee crisis in Europe over the summer.
A bit on crisis:
There are many faults in our society; assuming that men prefer work to spending time with their kids, not inventing a toilet with a self-lifting seat, being dazzled by trinkets and gee-gaws like a child at a carnival (I’m looking at you smartphone manufacturers!) and making people feel morally weak for drinking wine on days of the week that begin with the letter M – but I digress…. Possibly the biggest fault we have is our collective incapacity to avoid a crisis. It seems that an adolescence of finishing our homework late on a Sunday night has taught us nothing about the benefits of avoiding a crisis.
We seem to have acquired our governance skills from Nero. We have a refugee crisis at the moment which is following hot on the heels of the economic crisis of the early summer and there will, no doubt, be some other crisis after that. Remember the Ebola crisis anyone?
The refugee crisis has people who, for the most part, are in such a dire situation that the risks of the unknown in the flight to Europe are a better bet than their home situation. – As my mother would say – they didn’t come down in the last shower of rain you know!
And the risks they take are high – I saw a Channel 4 documentary the other night about someone who had travelled across Europe, jumped a lorry to the UK in Calais and was granted 5 years asylum in……………Glasgow! There he was, the poor soul, drinking a can of Tennents, Scotland’s favourite pint, trying to fit in.
As I watched the refugees in the very same railway stations across Europe that we had used to complete our adventure I was set to wonder on what made us tourists and them refugees? I’m generally broke so it wasn’t money.
In the end I decided that at the heart of our summer of fun and freedom was our home. Not the house in Cork, no, the abstract concept of home. A place in space and time where you can fart and blame the dog, A place where you can drink red wine on week nights beginning with the letter M whilst watching Hitler’s Henchmen on channels that advertise internet poker and chat lines in the ad breaks. On our trip across Europe we found our home in the houses of our friends and family, in the centre of Berlin and in the mountains of Italy. We found it in the apartments on AirBnB, in the smile of the train ticket inspector, everywhere we went, truth be told.
We thought nothing of loading our family onto a train for a 12 hour journey into the unknown because right at the back of it, buried in our minds was the fact that our kids would sleep in a safe bed at the end of the journey.
I suppose that’s what made us tourists and not refugees. We had a home.