As a bitterly divided ‘United’ Kingdom and the continent of Europe descend into a Very Uncertain Future dominated by a surge in nasty-minded nationalism, one of the things I absolutely love about Australia compared to my former homeland is the quality of its food. Even in a bog-standard ubiquitous high street supermarket like Coles or Woolworths the produce is far better, far fresher than even the best quality over-priced Waitrose stuff back in Rip-Off Britain, where the freshest green vegetables you can buy are usually frozen.
Despite it gobbling up several fifty quid notes at a time, when I lived in England I was a firm Waitrose disciple, particularly because they have their own farms. The unapologetically middle class grocery division of John Lewis is the only UK supermarket I never had to return a perishable item to. Even the slightly over-rated Marks & Spencer wasn’t immune in that department. However, they paled into insignificance once I arrived in Oz.
And the reason for that is perfectly simple. Almost all of it is home grown. No dodgy imports forced on them by the EU that have been in transit for so long that the food goes off even before the sell-by date. Hello tawdry Tesco and sub-par Sainsburys.
Because of the Europe-wide imports, everything is pre wrapped. Nothing lasts. You have to buy six tomatoes even though you only want two. You eat those and the rest are rotting dead two days later. But it’s cheaper there and you can get stuff all year round. In Aus you have to wait for things to come back in to season or pay through the nose.
Perhaps the dumbass Brits were right in voting for the fascist fuckwit Farage, the pound-shop Enoch Powell, and bonkers Brexit after all. Despite the EU’s no small part in the ruination of Greece, my maternal homeland (admittedly a homeland populated by people who are completely and utterly hopeless with money unless it’s ripping people off, including their own families), I remain a Remainer.
But it’s plain to see for an outsider like me that everything good about the EU is in retreat; everything bad is on the rampage. The referendum and its aftermath has become so coruscatingly divisive that there will be no coming together and healing of the population. A massive chasm of opposing societal perspectives, which has truth be told, always been lurking and festering beneath the surface, has been exposed and exploited.
I don’t think this particular genie will be returning to the bottle any time soon. Labour is an embarrassment, the Conservatives are disintegrating; Prime Minister Theresa May is on her way out of office, having failed to secure a parliamentary majority in Westminster for her Brexit deal. She failed because she tried to placate her own hard right and prevent voters from abandoning the party — again. Uable to do so, she has simply hardened pubic opinion, and it’s nasty. Fair dinkum.
Say no to nationalism.
Steve Pafford (Europhile, immigrant, traveller, owner of a dodgy ticker), Bennington, Vermont, USA
A version of this article first appeared on Facebook in 2014