I'm currently sitting on the ferry from Tallinn in Estonia heading to Helsinki, Finland to continue a mini-gigging tour of Scandinavia. I'm not just telling you that to boast. Well I am a bit. But to be fair if you're not in Estonia then chances are you're also not in -19 degrees Centigrade which, to be honest, is less than fun.
The only people about that are smiling are the ones that left their homes with that expression and it became frosted in place. The only positive I can see of this insane temperature is that, with luck, by being here, then Finland, until Friday, I may well have slowed my own ageing process down somewhat, akin to that of cryogenic freezing.
Aside from the weather though, being away has once again reminded me just how difficult and rubbish we like to make life in the UK. From the high speed, yet comfortable and cheap, trains in Denmark last week to the constant free wi-fi everywhere in Estonia, it just baffles me why Britain can't do such things. Admittedly, there are some strange things about this part of the world. The most interesting fact about Estonia for example is it actually likes having the Euro. I know. I know. I suppose part of it is that it only joined the Eurozone on 1 January, 2011.
Looking at the current situation of the currency you could say that that decision was a bit like buying an iPhone 4 one day before the iPhone 4S arrived. Only if the iPhone 4 that you bought somehow ran your whole bank account into dire poverty due to lending all your savings to other iPhone users who had no means of giving it back. But the thing is, Estonia love their iPhones, sorry, Euros.
It's interesting watching Cameron spend this week making it very clear that we are in no way European, and that the Channel is a clear and distinct border between us and those weirdos that drink wine and eat croissants.
We are told that this has all been done for the benefit of the UK, and to stop us falling into further debt, while the rest of Europe just looks at us as though we are that awkward woman that no matter how many drinks you've bought and compliments you give her, still thinks you don't like her. Sigh.
Can severing all these links really save the UK? Its not like the EU are a bunch of 'cool kids' - come on, Sarkozy definitely got picked last at school to play football, and Angela was definitely called 'Berk-al' as a kid - but somehow by leaving it it feels like the UK are the outsiders. I know it doesn't mean we've left the EU by any means, and in fact, many Eurosceptics seem to think we haven't left it enough, expecting a fall out anyway. I like to think this means Cameron is hated by all sides and goes to bed at night crying that he has no friends at all anymore. But the EU can't be our biggest fans. No one wants a disloyal chum, someone who's not willing to grit their teeth when the going gets tough. And should Europe need to unite against, er, the forces of evil or something (there is much to say they lurk and govern many parts of it anyway) then we'll be fending for ourselves with a broom stick and a bucket on our heads.
To be fair, I don't want the Euro and never have. Nor do I want the eurozone crisis to allow the UK to get in any further debt and be used as an excuse for anymore cuts. In fact I'm partly surprised that the government haven't let that happen just so they can start saying that all old people on state pensions should have limbs cut off so there is less to heat and money can be saved on energy.
But I do like being able to stroll through passport control at airports while Americans look sad in a long queue and more importantly, I don't think any of Cameron's reasons for his actions are sincerely for us. Dave makes no qualms about stating that he wants the City of London to be safeguarded and the fiscal union won't do that. The City of London that's in so much jeopardy with its £4.2bn in bank bonuses this year. They so need protecting from the big scary EU. I mean, what would happen if certain changes were come into place that meant they couldn't dodge enough taxes and suddenly found themselves only being able to buy £1000 bottles of champagne? The horror!
This week's dispute about banker's bonuses has really made it clear who the government are standing up for, and it's not anyone who earns less than £100k a month. The dictionary definition of 'bonus' is, "something in addition to what is expected or strictly due." It's amazing how the Coalition's need to destroy establishments extends even to those of the English language.
What Fred Goodwin or Stephen Hester were "strictly due" was an exclusion from the banking sector, a pay cut and a demand for money to be put back into the economy. What would have been an addition to that would have been a kick in the nads. Instead they gain a ton of cash and in Goodwin's case, a knighthood, which I'm very glad was removed this week. If nothing else I feared children of the future would look back on the knights of the Queen of England and have a horrible view of how times have changed. Gone are those rewarded for the slaying of dragons and defending of the people. Instead we have people who steal from the poor using loopholes and lies and Bruce Forsyth, whose chin in the past would have been attacked by entire frightened villages.
It just shows how moneycentric the UK is and I think that's the problem. We don't have free wi-fi everywhere because businesses can charge for it. We don't have low cost trains that actually work because we need them to get around and so are exploited into having to spend hundreds of pounds on a lacklustre service.
I just read this morning how MPs have overturned the Lord's veto on benefit caps which means that we really now have no systems in place to defend against such decisions. I'm honestly considering starting a revolt when I return tomorrow. And it would have to be a French style revolution. If nothing else, the fact that it's based in European history will really piss off Cameron. If any of you want to join me we'll start on Saturday. I'll get some pitchforks and torches and we'll just go nuts.
The problem, of course, is that this cold weather is heading to the UK as the moment and so as of tomorrow snow will hit and we won't be able to get transport anywhere, sitting indoors until we're apathetic again. Its amazing how despite the fact that its -23 Centigrade here in the Northernmost parts of Europe, it seems that in terms of progression Britain is the one left out in the cold.
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