Flu was bad but the EU referendum was worse. Now I know where I must Remain

Land of the Long White Cloud . . . and diversity and Geordie generosity

Another Prime Minister risked his reputation and his career on a referendum that was unnecessary. On the other side of the world, CAROL TYNE JOHNSTON realises that New Zealand is now her home. And votes Remain

FOUR days in bed with flu was bad enough but spending four wretched days listening to the whole EU referendum unfold like some sort of poisonous plant flowering into a glorious, but dangerous bloom was something else altogether.

Reluctant to read because of a grinding headache, I resorted to Radio 4 which reaches Wellington, New Zealand, courtesy of the internet. Even so, I had to keep resting: the results edging towards victory for Brexit just made the pain in my head worse.

Astonishment. Bewilderment. How on earth could this have happened?

Then the finger pointing: “The older generation have stuffed up our futures”. . .”The working class don’t know what they are voting for”. . .”Get over it and move on, losers! Nah-nah-ni-nah-nah!”

And then the Prime Minister resigns; well played, Mr Cameron! Don’t you think you have substantially contributed to the creation of the divided kingdom you are now requesting be united again? You make your bed and you have to lay in it Dave! Even if you’ve poop your pants in there.

So yes, New Zealand’s nightly news has been full of the debate. Kiwis are extremely interested, even if they have no idea at all who the recently resigned Nigel Farage is. Perhaps they won’t need to, now.

Still flying high: Kiwis chose to keep their Union Jack flag rather than the Silver Fern replacement
Still flying high: Kiwis chose to keep their Union Jack flag rather than the Silver Fern replacement. . . ?and ANOTHER Prime Minister was humiliated

We’ve had a referendum of our own recently, also initiated by a Prime Minister who really thought he could ‘pull it off’. Changing the flag did not sit well with New Zealand’s man-and-woman-in-the-street, Mr and Mrs Joe Bloggs. Consequently, $NZ26million was wasted on that particular fiasco, money that might have benefitted SO many people in so many ways.

But no, the PM wanted a legacy for himself.  It backfired badly for John Key, but nowhere near as spectacularly as Brexit has for David Cameron (actually, here’s an idea: if no-one is keen to press the Article 50 ‘button’, perhaps John Key could pop over and help out? He has lots of blue ties and the perfect, smarmy attitude of a Tory leader. You only have to ask for him, dear UK voters, and he’s all yours!

From a personal perspective, a few pennies have suddenly dropped for me as I plan my extended visit to Tyneside to care for my parents. I’m seeing New Zealand with new eyes. I still can’t say I love it with all my heart, but I am very glad that I am also a citizen of NZ. I am now facing the upcoming trip with a different mindset.

The influence of the ‘make do and mend’ mentality of the average Kiwi, has changed me forever. Out here they call it ‘number 8 wire’ [New Zealand term for “we used our ingenuity to fix it”, its origin found on sheep and dairy farms where farmers used No 8 gauge wire to build and repair fences and, eventually, such items as cars, tractors, hay bailers, etc. Anything that still worked was often held together with No 8 wire – Ed.]

I feel like I have to come back now because my life is so much simpler here. Yes, I like that, and I NEVER thought I would hear myself say it.

I am living in a society which values diversity, encourages multiculturalism and embraces a no-nonsense approach to life. A place where if you trip over something because you weren’t looking where you were going it’s your own fault because ‘you are a clumsy bugger!’

Political correctness and health and safety – though gathering momentum – are in their infancy. Sure, there’s still a lot to do: problems of the ever-increasing homeless population, domestic violence, child poverty, the terrible suicide rate. . . I could go on.

But within despair, there is always hope. I am honoured to know a young lady who ‘gets on her bike’ every Thursday evening and goes into Wellington City to feed homeless people, with supplies funded from her own pocket. She is in her early twenties and is Maori.
The spirit of generosity of the Geordie folk I miss so much is also out here, and I’m sure that generosity of spirit ‘remains’ in the UK, especially in Northumberland.
But despite the fact that I leave New Zealand for my trip home I know I will (eventually) return.
To Remain.


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