Nigel moved to Germany in September 2016.
How did you feel on 24th June when you heard about the UK’s vote to leave the EU?
1)I was shocked and astonished. I felt betrayed.So many of my assumptions about my life, opportunities and rights-and those of my children and grandchildren–had been overturned at a stroke by 17 million of my fellow citizens (not even a majority of adults). The same people whomI had spent over twenty years of my life defending as aRegular Army officer, working alongside people from allied nations, including many from EU countries.
2) What were the key driving factors that made you decide to leave the UK?
My decision was based on a determination to continue living in the EU, even as a foreigner and non-citizen. I also had friends in Germany and knewLower Saxony quite well.
2)How/why did you choose your current country of residence?
My daughter supported my view that I would be happiest in Germany.
3)Do you have citizenship for your current country? Do you still have EU citizenship? If no, are you hoping to obtain it?
I remain a British citizen. As things stand, when Brexit is finalised, I shall become a third country national, though some of my rights as a former EU citizenare protected because I arrived before Article 50 was signed. I shall probably need a residency card,renewable–fora fee–every two years. It takes eight years to qualify for German citizenship and one must pass a language and citizenship examination, pay a fee, fill out lots of forms and get documents translated (for a fee). I may try, but I’ll be 74 before I’m eligible to apply.
5) Do you plan to return to the UK or hope to move to another country in the future?
No, I plan to stay in Germany.
6) What was the most difficult aspect/greatest you challenge you faced in moving?
The language barrier. However,family and friends were very supportive and I knew my new home city quite well, having visited it several times since 1991, so I had few problems.
7) What do you miss most about the UK?
MyBritish son and grand children in England. My British daughter in Hong Kong. They will lose their EU citizenship like me, and will no longer be able to visit me for long periods. They will be limited to tourist visas, whereas, as EU citizens, any of them could stay with me without restrictions.
8) What do you love most about your current country of residence?
The tolerance, egalitarianism, hospitality and the countryside. The environmentalist lobby.
9) Do you consider yourself to have a “European identity” and what that does that mean to you?
As far as I am concerned, I am a European. I will never stop being of British but, in my heart, I feel that European fraternity, collaboration and mutuality are essential for peace, security,justice, prosperity, the environment, human rights, consumer rights, workplace rights and the chance to help other parts of the world. I wish to be part of that, not a “Little Englander”.
10) Do you still consider yourself to have a “British identity” and how do you feel about it?
I am British born and bred. I am well-versed in–and have taught about-British culture, history and, naturally, the English language. I am fond of English literature, too. As well as time as a school teacher after I qualified in 1971,I taught English as Foreign Language for several years, often to Gurkha soldiers.
My German friends know and respect my British background. Many are Anglophiles, but they are baffled and saddened by Brexit.
11) How has the Covid19 pandemic affected your life?
Social distancing and self-isolation started here some time ago. Germany’s response was timely, quick and based on ‘test, trace, isolate and contain’– it was ramped up in January. I respect the rules and seldom go out at the moment. I just go on brief shopping trips twice a week, always wearing a facemask. Shopping queues are controlled and the handles of the mandatory trolleys are sanitized as customers collect them. Bars and restaurants and inessential shops have been closed for three weeks. Schools and colleges closed five weeks ago. This Easter weekend is very quiet. Interestingly, a large German coffee machine and filter company has responded to the crisis by voluntarily switching part of its filter production lines in Europe and the US to making face masks to medical protection standards. It made a million in the first week here and plans to increase that dramatically. They have more sophisticated masks in the pipeline, too.
12) How do you feel about your country’s response to the Covid19 pandemic compared to the UK government & media?
The UK government’s response was dilatory and disregarded expert advice. Lessons learned during a large-scale British pandemic training exercise in 2016 were ignored. Britain was ill-prepared and ill-equipped. Furthermore, the NHS had been starved of funding for years. HMG turned down EU offers of collaborative personal protective equipment (PPE)procurement. It did, however, quietly accept EU help in arranging shared repatriation flights to bring British travellers home from around the world–and 60 ventilators from the German army. Worse still, the sameTory MPs who are now encouraging the public to applaud frontline NHS staff voted down a pay rise for nurses a year or so ago-and cheered when they won. The powerful nucleus of the ruling party wants a small-government, low tax, low pay state and was very content with the minimum intervention policy advocated in support of the flawed and essentially cruel ‘herd immunity’ concept. A ‘cull’ of the weak and vulnerable seems to have been attractive as a budgetary saving – and losses amongst healthcare professionals(lack of PPE) as acceptable ‘collateral damage’. This may be changing a bit now, with casualty rates still high and the PM just out of intensive care, but ministers are still insisting that Brexit will proceed on schedule, trade deal or not. Madness!
A poem by Nigel Capel:
“To All Brexiter Armchair Art Critics
They’re quick to carp and criticise,
These armchair critics whom we ‘prize’.
Their comments and just what they just say,
Gave us a laugh or two today.
Their ignorance is quite astounding,
And their remarks so catty sounding.
They clearly haven’t got a clue
And art they simply misconstrue.
They said that Maddy’s painting’s poor,
Of that they seem entirely sure.
Could they do better? We don’t know,
Their own attempts they never show.
Their vitriol taints all they say,
About young Madeleina Kay.
For one thing, she does more than them,
This Leicester lass whom they condemn.
These critics have, of course, not been,
To galleries of art: no paintings seen.
Of one Picasso, they know nowt,
His greatness and artistic clout.
His paintings are worth massive sums.
His art, in many forms it comes,
From cubist oils to surreal sculpture,
His portraits – part of modern culture.
Those collages that children do,
(Oh, and many adults too),
Go back to his experiments
With new artistic elements.
For those who do not know their art,
Let me suggest a place to start.
Search for Picasso and his work,
And in this challenge do not shirk.
At several works just take a look,
You’ll even find them in a book.
You’ll quickly find that Maddy’s style
Has been around for quite a while.
And now such works some millions cost,
Especially ones that had been ‘lost’.
On “Girl Before a Mirror” fix,
It sold for millions sixty six.
So, now before cruel things you say ,
Of portraits by our young Miss Kay,
Remember that her lovely pictures,
May well become artistic fixtures.”
Nigel Capel, 15th April 2020, Hannover
“Girl Before a Mirror”
Painted by Pablo Picasso in 1932
Sold at auction in 2010 for £66 million