The screws tighten

What a surreal day. We lurch even closer to the abyss. Monday’s indicative vote is the last chance.

Brexit is high up on the news here as well. People are baffled, sad at what they see as the collapse of everything they thought the British were – pragmatic, calm, dignified (well, yes, also arrogant, cherry pickers).

Last week my English neighbours, here on a brief visit, were shopping in my favourite veg shop and the owner asked them with sympathy how they were coping. (The assumption is that any Brits here are not for Brexit.) She told them that she had several British customers worrying about their futures in France

At lunch with my friends Charles and Pierre we returned to the old question, what made people vote for Brexit. In the afternoon I went to the pharmacy (where I am greeted by name – a sad réflection of where I shop these days!) and again was asked what I thought might happen now.

Then, on to the vernissage of an art exhibition – a vernissage is the opening, to invited guests, with drinks and nibbles. There are quite a few artists in the region and this was a gathering of le Vigan’s cultural set, of which I appear to be a member. I was hardly able to look at the paintings and sculptures as I was accosted again and again by people wanting to express sympathy and to exclaim at what a catastrophe this was for le Royaume Uni.

People here are under no illusions about the problems facing the EU, but there is a strong sense of what it has done to unite people beyond nationalism. They are worried about the forthcoming elections and the rising right wing populism.

Nobody was surprised I am still waiting for my carte de séjour; the French are only too aware of the shortcomings of their administrative bureaucracy. One woman said she had an American nephew who had been told by the Paris prefecture that his application for French citizenship might take three years to be considered.

More pressing than my desire to retain European nationality is my need to be in the health system. Friends were appalled to hear that my carte vitale (the crucial health passport here) might only last for a year after Brexit.

They understand when I say that for two years my life has been on hold. Sadly the Resume button may soon be pushed, but who knows what will be playing.

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