Monday, March 23, 2009

The Promised England

Here's where we spent yesterday: at "the Jungle", a makeshift migrant slum in the forest near Calais France. It is there that nearly a thousend migrants, from Afganistan, Eritrea and elsewhere await a chance to enter the land of their dreams: The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

The Jungle is an obcenely harsh place, a landmark of a government's disregard for human wellbeing and dignity. Our reportage from there is to be published in Haaretz and should prove the most meaningful piece of the French month's output, but that's not what I want to tell you about. I'd like to tell you about these people's paradise.

With our decent passports, it took us ten minutes to hitch a lift to the Dover ferry. within 90 minutes we were across the Channel. It did look good, that England.

after several pints of Kentish bitter at a family owned pub, crowded with dogs and children, it looked even better.

so good, in fact, that we decided to stay the night and walked over the fields and pastures that grace the clifftop to the town of Deal. Here we found yet another pub, The king's head, it offered cheap rooms, good atmosphere and a cardiologically disasterous breakfast.

However, stepping out of the King's Head this morning we realized how mislead all these immigrants are. England is no El Dorado. In fact, it is a grim chip-shop freezer of a country looking something like what you see below. A morning walk down Deal's pier was simply punishing. Can we get used to English weather? Is the Jungle preferable? We'll spend another day of good ale and healthy chat and let you know.


Yaelian said...

Right you are about that weather;awful greyness that is utterly depressing..

masha said...


James said...

I must defend my beloved land....for the past 3 weeks prior to last week (when I was back there) is was warm & spring-like.

But, & this is a big but, I still don't truly know why so many folk (like the people in the tent city) want to get there - it can be truly harsh, grim & unjust. remember the chinese winkle pickers who died last year? and floods of polish workers are now returning to their wealthier home country....

England is not a bed of roses, even for the native Brits.

keep up your worldwide investigation Yuval. Great reporting!

Yuval said...

Worry not, James, we adore your country, even after having to take refuge from the rain in a phonebooth at a Kentish village. It's got better beer than France, people dress more colourfully, and that scampi - it's grand stuff. We had a very good time in Deal, Sandwich and Canterbury.

Nowehre is Shangri-la. England, even with its horrid winds, smelly Northern Line and disdain for such things as cilantro, comes closer than some other places I can think of.

willie said...

nice blog.