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What it Means to be European, and British

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Having spent a wet afternoon in Richmond Park earlier this week flag waving HRH the Queen on her royal progression to celebrate her Diamond Jubilee, I did feel for the drenched military and community entourage. However the apocalyptic rain was also a feature in France for the inauguration of the new president, Francoise Hollande, who stood stoically through his soaking at the mercy of the elements - let's hope it gets less stormy for him as his new presidency gets underway.

Reflecting then on what it means to be both proudly British and an enthusiastic European, I was disturbed to hear on BBC Radio 4's Today Programme the responses to a vox pop in Brussels about the fate of Greece and its position with the European Union. The Spanish, French, Portuguese and Belgian respondents all said keep Greece in the EEC and two Germans said without hesitation 'let them go!'

Surely the whole point of the EEC is to work together? One of the German interviewees said that it's not because of the Greek people, but because their government would go on another spending spree. I can understand Germany not wanting Greece to go off into the sunset with a new line of credit but the EEC is a marriage with too many partners and lots of ill-matched relatives to accommodate. Did somebody forget the prenup?

This kind of commentary reminds me of the fabulous Greek comic, Katarina Vrana, a past finalist in the Funny Women Awards, who has created some brilliantly funny material out of the European wranglings, likening the various countries to naughty school children and dealing with their various cultural idiosyncrasies. There's always truth at the core of comedy.

But hey, we Brits are not completely without our island mentality, not quite 'joining in' having never adopted the Euro. I'm not an economist so can only say it as I see it and perhaps very naively, but I personally like the idea of travelling around Europe with one currency in a financially borderless community.

The UK is umbilically attached to mainland Europe by a tunnel and many ferry routes. In this ever shrinking world I love the fact that the plains, mountains, lakes, rivers and historic cities of Europe are only a day or so car's drive away. It doesn't mean the loss of cultural identities either. In fact we share them more than ever - food, music, film, literature and, of course, comedy. I'm embracing the European dream still and don't want to see it fade away in the current economic malaise. Let's all book cheap holidays to the Greek islands and help them grow their economy again.

So as Britain braces itself for a patriotic Jubilee and the global platform of the London Olympic Games, (a concept created by the Greeks, please note) we will share our celebrations and culture with many visitors from all over Europe and the wider global community. We've enough strife with war and hunger in this world without this economic battle putting the frontiers back in our brave new Europe. Let's call upon our cultural strengths instead and show the rest of the world what a united Europe can achieve.