Blue Birds Over

Blue Birds Over

There used to be “Blue birds over, the White cliffs of Dover” – and I remember how white and bright they were, when I was a teenager, returning from my summers in France and Spain, to see them, shining, and to know that I would soon be back in England – an England I no longer recognize.

Windmills, cliffs collapsing, line-ups for miles of trucks and traffic waiting to make their way into a Europe that we rejected. I remember travelling to France, Spain, Germany, Holland, Belgium, Luxemburg, Switzerland, Italy, Portugal and always being welcome. I remember the days when, as a pre-teen and an early teen, visas were still necessary for entry into some countries. And I remember how, later, with a European Passport, I was welcomed as a member of a larger community.

The Latin Mass, a common factor throughout Europe in my youth, now celebrated in many languages, is only open to those who speak those languages. Progressive or Retrograde? I guess, like beauty, everything is in the eye of the beholder. De gustibus non est disputandum – and that’s how it should be. But I long for that freedom, that sense of adventure, that sense of belonging that once, so long ago, I knew.

And yes, I wish I could still see those bluebirds over the white cliffs of Dover, not just lines of lorries and piles of portaloos and stress and discontent and impatience and misery. Just sign me sad, I guess, but now I know why those bluebirds are blue.

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