Moving on
Towards Better Times...?

Sunday, October 09, 2005

On Becoming an 'Ex-Pat'

As anyone who reads my blog may know, me and my husband are shortly moving to Spain – Andalucia to be precise.  Our reasons for this are various: escape the cold; less-stressful way of life; liking the Spanish people and Spain in general; and also, just to make a move while we have enough money left to do so, have time to make it work and to enjoy the experience (and in this sense it is two adults [who perhaps should know better……] setting out on an ‘adventure’).  I have also spoken about my fears about what is happening in the UK in terms of increased Government intervention in people’s lives and the increasingly totalitarian nature of the present Government, and I simply do not want to be a part of this any more.

But all of this does not mean that I have lost touch with reality.

On our last visit to Spain, on the plane coming back to the UK, I had the (one could say unfortunate?) experience of sitting next to another UK citizen who was in the throes of becoming an ‘ex-pat’.  He spoke to me incessantly of why he and his partner were moving to Spain ...... and the bigotry and prejudice that fell from his mouth was appalling, but, I’m afraid, somewhat typical of the attitude of many (although not the majority) ex-pats and many (hopefully not the majority) Brits.  Being a person who does not like to cause a furore in an airplane (I have enough trouble staying calm when flying as it is ......), I talked to this ‘gentleman’ without expressing too much distaste (I think ......), although I just had to tell him my point of view, which anyone should have been able to tell was vastly different to his.  But although I seethed inside at his words, I decided to let them go as there was little point in arguing against such deeply-rooted views (at that particular time, anyway).

But I couldn’t let it go.

The ‘gentleman’ spoke of his hatred for Tony Blair’s Government.  I could agree with that, but not for his reasons which were along the lines of: “All Labour Governments are the same.  They tax the people who bother to make money to give it to those who don’t; they pour money into helping gays and lesbians and other ‘causes’ we don’t need, while letting the country go to rack and ruin ...... and they let anyone in here – it started with the w.....s and now the country is full of  w.....s and p.....s spouting about their rights while our rights are being taken away from us ......” And so it went on ......

The usual garbage one could say (and the ‘message’ [covert but in place nevertheless] carried by the English right-wing media).  Anyone who lives in the UK will have heard this many times before.  But I had to listen to this for over two hours (on a plane ride which experienced turbulence most of the way ....) and try to let him (and anyone else who was listening) know, without causing a scene, that I didn’t share his views.

But I think the worst of it was that he seemed to see me and my husband (who pretended to be asleep ......) as comrades in ‘the great escape’ from the UK and as people who shared his views – after all, why else would we want to move to Spain ……..?

To give this man credit, he did also talk about all the good things in Spain, but even here, he stressed “it is all very well living amongst the Spanish, but one has to have some British neighbours, doesn’t one? After all, the Spanish are usually nice people, but they will try to rip us off whenever they can, especially as we don’t speak their language.”  One of the reasons he had chosen to live in a particular area (not too near to us, thankfully) was that “other British people live there already and more are coming out soon. Hopefully there will be a few British clubs and pubs there shortly.”

Talking to this man brought home to me what I had realised, but largely ignored, before.  Yes, many Spanish people want Brits to come to Spain, as they can sell their houses to them at a very good price and British (and German) visitors to Spain benefit the Spanish economy and thus (hopefully) the Spanish people.  But do they actually like ‘the Brits’?  Well, would you, if this was the type of attitude you encountered with many of them?

The views given by this man are not my views, or the views of my husband.  In fact, they couldn’t be much further from our views if they tried.  But I still feel like I have to ‘prove’ that people moving to Spain from Britain are not all like that – that we want to live among Spanish people; we want to get to know them; and, although we know that we have probably been ‘ripped off’ on the price of our property in Spain, it doesn’t bother us, as it was still far cheaper than any house we could have purchased in Britain.  Good luck to them - they make a profit and we get somewhere nice to live.  What could be wrong with that?  And if we don’t speak Spanish, whose fault is that?  It will not be easy, but we intend to learn Spanish well enough to be able to communicate with people in our new home.  What is the point in moving to a Spanish village otherwise?  If we didn’t wish to communicate with our neighbours we would have been better off moving to Torremolinos, which has been so taken over by ‘the Brits’ that it now resembles somewhere like Blackpool ...... only with sun.  No way would we want to live somewhere like that!

But this is getting me off the point a little.

This morning I happened upon a forum at Yahoo:  LondonBombingsThread where people were discussing ‘The War on Terror’.  The views expressed were from left, right and centre; from educated to less so …… Some views, from all political areas, were appropriate, but many were led by prejudice, particularly about immigration.  

Amongst all the messages I found a couple by people who were moving, or who had moved, out of Britain.  This is an example:

“Most British born people are law abiding citizens who know right from wrong. Many of these people are looking to live elsewhere. I left for Spain in ………. I WILL NOT return to live. Here in Spain people say as they think - a spade is a spade - none of this politically correct rubbish. The UK has been far too soft on immigration for far too long - and now it is too late - we no longer have a national identity!! The UK has gone to the dogs ...” ForumReply

Oh dear!

Naturally, people hit back with comments like: “It’s a good job Spain allows immigration then!” and reminded the writer about Spain’s past, under Franco (a far from ‘free thinking’ time), and about how terrorism was affecting Spain too.  All very apt comments.

But here again were those same views, almost word-for-word, that I had encountered on the plane.

Now I know that all British ‘ex-pats’ do not think this way, but it does seem that it is the most vociferous who are listened to, and these tend to be the people expressing views like these.  I do not want to be associated with them in any way, shape or form.

Maybe it’s time to stand up and be counted ........?

posted by summersun70 at 7:30 AM


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