Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Posts Tagged ‘Rome’

Easter in Rome

Posted by jonathanfryer on Friday, 30th March, 2018

D0E180F4-0506-45E5-8BAD-FD50B5A051DEHaving spent more than half a century travelling around Europe — most of it for work, including eight years based in Brussels (the subject of my next memoir) — I’ve been just about everywhere, except Kosovo since it declared independence. But of course there are some “experiences” I still have to have — not exactly a bucket list, but nonetheless things that it would be nice to have notched on my belt before I pop my clogs. So here I am in Rome for Holy Week, the Easter palomba cake on the kitchen table at my friend’s flat off the Piazza di Spagna. I’d expected the city to be super-crowded, but apart from the occasional crocodile of Chinese chugging down the pavement, this part of town is relatively manageable. The Piazza del Popolo at the end of the street was packed on Wednesday for the funeral of the  much-loved TV presenter Fabrizio Frizzi, but otherwise I have been able to wander and when the mood takes me, to sit in the Spring sun on a cafe terrace. Mind you, I have kept well away from the Vatican, which I imagine will be heaving, especially as the Easter weekend progresses and the Pope appears. I shall leave that to the devoted, as I abandoned organised religion decades ago. But a priest is coming to a fish supper at the apartment this evening, so we are sort of entering into the spirit of things.

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Why Europe Matters

Posted by jonathanfryer on Wednesday, 19th April, 2017

IMG_2269One of the most depressing things about the whole Brexit business is the way that the UK’s Conservative government is turning its back on Europe. It’s not just Theresa May’s apparent desire to lead the country out of the European Single Market — though the potential hit to the economy from that is enormous — or the rejection, on the basis of the 52% Leave vote in last June’s EU Referendum, of the European project in political terms, even though that is something I continue to believe in passionately. No, the worst thing is many Brexiteers’ pretence that Britain is not part of Europe, as if somehow the English Channel were a thousand miles wide. Not only do such British (though in truth, English) nationalists show an extraordinary lack of knowledge of history but they don’t seem to realise that the bulk of the UK’s population is a hybrid mix of different European origin (prior to the post-War injection of new blood from the Commonwealth). Culturally, we Britons are most definitely European; Bach and Goya and all the thousands of other creative talents, past and present, contributed to a body of culture that is extraordinarily rich and diverse, and shared by Europeans. In Rome this week, walking among the antiquities  or viewing the magnificent exhibition of portraits by Giovanni Boldini, I am struck as ever by the sense that this is our heritage, our Europe. The idea that we might in future have to apply for visas to come to the Continent, or that visas will be necessary for EU citizens to visit Britain, if the worst outcome of the Brexit process occurs, is horrible to contemplate. All that explains why I hope that much of the snap UK election that Mrs May has called will be about Europe, and why Europe matters, and why we are Europe and Europe is us. At least the Liberal Democrats get the message.

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