Hundreds of British people stuck in northern France, desperate for ferries home, share their stories of difficult and expensive overland travel from across Europe. Listening to the Volcano-Refugees’ tales of camaraderie and ingenuity, I wonder if anyone else is remembering the last time that travellers stuck in Calais featured so prominently in our news.
Will the people who now stare wistfully across the Channel with a desire for home start to see through the eyes of those who have been forced to leave and who long to arrive? Will people who have paid the earth and fought tooth and nail to reach their aspired destination gain insight into the motivations of those who have given everything to travel to a place of sanctuary? Will those who have experienced hospitality from strangers become more generous and kind when they are no longer the foreigner?
The volcano fall-out probably won’t do much to shape policy, apart from adding some fuel to green and financial debates, but it’d be nice if it shaped compassion and understanding.
Pointing out the plank, I start to feel irritated by the speck in my own eye. While preaching change in others, I find myself wound up on behalf of my friends stuck in Portugal, gutted that I now won’t get to see them later in the week after months of looking forward to it. I feel sad for my brother whose much-needed holiday in Lanzarote had to be exchanged for a caravan in Skegness, impressed by his ability to let go of the frustration and annoyance.
And I think of my longed-for holiday in two weeks time. The escape from England. The prospect of sunshine. New sights, new people, new places. The rate things are going it’s not guaranteed, yet the prospect of losing my idealised – idolised? – break makes me more stressed than I like to admit. I really don’t want it to be prised from me, but it’s pretty clear that I need to loosen my grip.
Please use this situation for good. Start with me.