Good Riddance 2016

2016_edited-2I know I’m not alone when I say good riddance to 2016. It was the kind of year that will go down in the history books as a year that changed the world.

2016 kicked off with the shocking loss of our Star Man, David Bowie…

The year gathered steam with an unprecedented number of celebrity deaths including Sir Terry Wogan, Alan Rickman, Muhammed Ali, Prince, Ronnie Corbett, Victoria Wood, Andrew Sachs, Caroline Aherne and Leonard Cohen to name just a few, while the line up of musicians who left us in 2016 rivals the list of performers who signed up for Band Aid. Christmas brought a fresh wave of public grief: it was George Michael’s Last Christmas and Debbie Reynolds died of a stroke the day after losing her daughter Carrie Fisher to a heart attack.

ISIS continued to dominate the news with terror attacks on European cities and in the Middle East claiming hundreds of innocent lives. And talking of the innocent, more than two million refugees fled war-torn Syria – often to be confronted by hostility, suspicion and closed borders – and thousands more drowned in their attempt to reach a safe haven. As Calais’s Jungle was dismantled, a xenophobic public demanded proof that ‘child refugees’ were actually children.

In June Britain cheered for the underdog as Leicester City won the Premier League at amazing 5,000/1 odds.

But when the British people voted to leave the EU the same month, I knew anything could happen in 2016…

…and sure enough the American electorate voted in a narcissistic sociopath as the 45th President of the United States just a few months later.

Politically 2017 may look just as bleak as The Trump takes the reigns and Britain begins its complicated negotiations to leave Europe. We can but pray for global peace, as living in terror becomes a way of life. But we can only strike forward into the New Year with hope in our hearts and a resolve to embrace the changes ahead – after all “tomorrow is another day”…

In response to the Daily Post Hopeful

Oh Britain, What Have We Done?

(By Pip)

village.jpg
Pip Art

The 200 or so ex-pats who call a sleepy mountain village in Spain’s Andalucía home, woke yesterday morning to find that their future had changed overnight. By how much no-one can accurately predict at this stage and its going to be an agonising wait for them all over the next couple of years as politicians wrangle an exit deal on their behalf.

In the immediate aftermath rumours seep through the streets and gossip bounces off the white walls and ricochets around the village…

A fifty-year-old business owner in the process of purchasing property saw the value of their capital drop by more than 10% overnight. A retired couple that have lived here 25 years fear that their only option may be to return to the UK once the healthcare and pension issues have been settled and yet may never be able to sell their house here. “You’ll be kicked out,” a few prosaic Spaniards announce!

The non-Spanish who live here are a diverse group, who settled here for the quality of life, the pace and simplicity of rural Andalucía and the reliable sunshine. It is the antithesis of 21st century urban living and a heady blend of passion and serenity. Sure there are members of the “Bridge Set” here, but there are also young families whose children attend the local school; the middle-aged running restaurants and local businesses; artists and artisans beavering away in their studios; men – young and old – offering their services as Spanish teachers or local guides; electricians and mechanics; people managing holiday rentals, and running retreats or writing workshops.

Austerity has taken its toll: the streets are punctuated with half-finished buildings; the young cannot find work unless they escape to the coast or beyond; life has a raw quality to it and people often live hand to mouth. Being one of the region’s famous white villages, the local economy has a certain reliance on tourism. It is too early to say what impact the UK’s decision to leave Europe will have socially and economically but one thing is for sure…

one small island’s ripples extend far and wide across Europe and it’s actions will not only change the future for the ex-pats living here, but the community as a whole.