I’m going to briefly get political here. Several weeks ago, here in the UK, a referendum was held to determine whether or not the electorate want to remain or leave the European Union, and almost 52% chose to vote Leave. Fair enough – democracy has spoken.
One of the key arguments coming from the Leave side was in regards to Immigration – part and parcel of EU membership is the free movement of people, and since countries like Poland, Romania and Bulgaria joined the Union, a number of their citizens have been able to settle and find work here in the UK where wages are generally higher. The more jobs that go to foreign nationals, the less there is available for UK citizens – although that’s quite a simplistic explanation. The same foreign nationals brought much-needed skills to fill employment gaps in key areas such as healthcare.
The other argument often touted was about assimilation – these foreign nationals were also bringing their culture with them, cultures that were somewhat different to typical British culture. In very basic terms, the problem was that these Poles, Romanians and Bulgarians were acting like Poles, Romanians and Bulgarians, and not acting like British people; not that that’s any different from Geordies acting like Geordies, Brummies acting like Brummies or Yorkshirefolk acting like Yorkshirefolk.
And therein lies my problem – while some insist that culture remains British, there is a double-standard at work. In the last 25 years, the Brits have assimilated so much American culture that we now have School Proms, Black Friday and whole channels of TV dedicated to US imports. It’s like it’s okay to assimilate foreign cultures if it’s American (or Irish for that natter – nobody complains about celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, even if they have no Irish DNA in them), but not if it’s from any non-English-speaking nation. I say to hell with that – every culture has its own celebrations, and culture should be no barrier to getting together and having a good time.
If we’re willing to give certain industries a boost with School Proms and Black Friday, we should give our local breweries a boost by adopting Oktoberfest! What could be better than towns and regions getting together, brewing their own special celebratory beer, and just having a good time? The two biggest German supermarkets, Aldi and Lidl, are both getting in on the Oktoberfest spirit by selling seasonal German brews here in the UK… and who are we to say we don’t want any part of that?
And so I say Prost! Here’s to the foreigners bringing their much-needed skills into the UK, contributing to our much-cherished services. Here’s to the foreigners bringing their culture, customs and celebrations into the UK, making life here more all the more vibrant and colourful. Britain would be a grey and boring nation without them, so I say to hell with what parties like UKIP and Britain First think: the craic knows no cultural boundaries, so if there’s any reason to celebrate, let’s feckin’ celebrate!