It’s the autumn equinox and I’m lying under palm trees by a pool in San Antonio thinking about home. This business with Thomas Cook. Shape of things to come? Millions of British people stuck in foreign countries. Millions more stuck in their own country and upset about being unable to get out?
“We moved over here a year ago,” I’m told by one of the people I’ll be working with in San Antonio. She’s from the UK. I’m going in to a class of hers to help her literature students understand how to bring out emotion through language in poetry recital. She’s chosen a Hannah More poem about slavery. It looks like an interesting session.
She used to work at a university in Bristol before here, hence perhaps her choice of a Bristolian bluestocking writing iambic pentameter about the slave trade. “I loved my home life in Bristol, but the state of Humanities Education in the UK…” Her eyes finish the sentence. It’s not in a good state according to those eyes, people. Newsflash.
“My husband can’t work yet, but I’m happier in my work over here,” she continues. “We live as well here on my wage as we did in Bristol on combined wages…” She hasn’t found her crowd yet though. Her eyes are hungry for company. It must be strange relocating completely like that. San Antonio is very unlike Bristol. Especially right now, when it seems the UK is on fire. I miss London a bit now despite the impending car crash. I miss my friends, Pickle and a plate of food in a restaurant that has vegetables and leaves you hungry.
I’m reasonably sheltered from UK news over here as we aren’t really that important to the USA, even though they kinda like the English in the same way they kinda like chipmunks. They occasionally find themselves engaged: “awww look at that ancient half blind chipmunk. It wants both of the nuts and it can only have one. It’s smashing them both and hurting itself. Stoopid little critter. It’s gnawed off its own leg now! Shall we help it? Nah. Let nature take its course.”
We are basically a bizarre ancient nation of narrow people with bad teeth and funny accents dismantling themselves in some sort of sad inevitable international grand guignol clown-show. Slowly slicing our noses down the middle with razors, pulling our tongues out through holes dug in our throats with our filthy desperate fingers, popping out our shining hopeful eyes whilst rasping the word “sovereign” until we lose so much blood that we can rasp no more.
And I’m just sitting by the pool letting it unfold and observing it. At least we’ll get that money for the NHS I guess.
All five of us are tired after travel day, even though it’s been a light journey. It’s a lovely fellowship. We just get on with it but stick together. Katherine is planning an early morning lesson. Kaffe and I are both blogging. He’s writing the official showblog, which is infinitely harder as you can’t just indulge in ridiculous Brexit similes. Claire and Jono are working out details of the cars tomorrow. Claire is looking out for my interests as she knows I’ll want the car tomorrow for my birthday for a few hours just to do my usual thing of jiggling around and looking at stuff. Without wheels we are trapped in this hotel. But this whole unit of five is remarkable. We all fit well around each other. We all bring something to the table. And we all have fun when we can. And sit in a circle working if it seems the right thing to do. Feels like a true fellowship. And there’s a lot of ground to cover yet.