I’ve been thinking about what will change once we have exited the European Union: not the big things like the effect on our trade deals, the changes to our laws, our defence policies, that sort of thing. No, I’ll leave such weighty topics to the politicians, lawyers and military to deal with. I’ve been thinking more of the effect on cartographers, souvenir manufacturers, car number plate manufacturers, HM Passport Office, public holidays, and so on. Let me explain.
Google “EU countries” and switch to the Maps view and you’ll find lots of maps like this. (Am I the only one to think that Sweden and Finland together resemble male genitals about to urinate on the rest of Europe?)
Now, someone, a cartographer, has gone to a great deal of trouble to colour the EU member countries blue, the applicants for membership khaki, and all the non-EU adjoining pariah countries a desultory grey. In two years’ time, give or take a few months or years and assuming the applicants will still be applicants, the map will look like this:
The UK will have been greyed out! In the image above, it took me a couple of hours to grey out the UK, pixel by pixel, using the clone brush in PaintShop Pro. We should pity the cartographers who will have to do this with far greater accuracy. The UK has a very squiggly coast line.
Similarly with those earnest individuals who compile lovely wall charts of the flags of all the EU member nations for schools to hang proudly on the walls of their classrooms. Those compilers will have to strike out the Union Jack, thus destroying the elegant symmetry of twenty-eight flags, reducing it back to twenty-seven flags plus a hole:
How about UK passports? These days, we are issued with a common format EU passport with burgundy-coloured covers and bearing the words “European Union” above the “United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland” on the front cover. Now, I’m not advocating a return to the old blue UK passport —perish the thought—but my current passport is valid for a further seven years i.e. probably well into the post-Brexit period. Will I be allowed to use a black marker pen to strike out the “European Union” text?
We must also pity all those UK car owners who have fitted number plates bearing the optional EU country identifier.
Actually, items such as these may well become priceless reminders of our past glory days in the EU. You would be well advised to start buying such goodies and stashing them away for your children and grandchildren to inherit.
How about the EU’s Textile Regulation governing the labelling of textiles and clothes? You must all have bought an item of clothing and read the labels (two, not one) stitched inside informing you in six different languages of the fibre composition, notification of any non-textile parts of animal origin, country of manufacture, and how to wash the garment. I mean to say, sometimes these labels are larger than the garment itself. I’m thinking of men’s thongs and women’s itsy-bitsy teeny-weenie bikinis. I cut off and discard these labels on my thongs. Their removal prevents unwanted tangles with body parts and saves on washing powder!
Finally, there will be the loss of Europe Day and all that goes with it. You do know about Europe Day, actually Europe Days, right? They are May 5th, established by the Council of Europe, and May 9th, established by the European Union and also known as the EU Flag Day. Both Days are days to celebrate the creation and aims of the European Union and should be observed with much flag waving, solemn speeches about the greatness of the European Union, and riotous parties wherein full no-holds-barred integration is boisterously encouraged. Basically, the two Europe Days are excuses for all members of local and national government who have even the slightest connection with the EU to have a day off with full pay and benefits. The scallywags!
I assume the UK will no longer celebrate Europe Days after the exit. The party food and alcoholic drinks industries will suffer accordingly unless May 5th and May 9th are renamed Brexit days. That’ll work.