Author: Mike Zollo

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The UK: Britaly or the sick man of Europe? What our neighbours think of us

Mike Zollo

Sick UK What a headline … “Reino Unido, atrapado en su propio laberinto político y económico” (the United Kingdom, trapped in its own political and economic labyrinth). Enough to make you feel proud to be British? Or to acknowledge that our friends and neighbours pity us for what is happening to the UK? This was […]

Now is the summer of our discontent!

Mike Zollo

“Your government?! What a joke that is!” That was the sniggering reaction earlier this afternoon, albeit not in so many words, from our Danish neighbours in the Spanish village where we are spending a few weeks. OK, so it’s human nature to find it easier to recognise other people’s problems than to acknowledge our own, […]

Is Town Twinning winning?

Mike Zollo

A review of town twinning schemes after Covid… and Brexit Over the past year or so, WCV has published articles which demonstrate clearly the degree to which Brexit is having a negative impact on educational and cultural contacts between the UK and the EU… It’s almost as if this is a conscious policy of this […]

Alfabetti spaghetti – become a pasta masta!

Mike Zollo
alfabetti pasta

It was probably due to World War Two and the British servicemen returning from Italy that interest in Italian food began to take off in the UK… as immortalised by Sophia Loren and Peter Sellers. As regards pasta, in the 1950s one had to shop at International Stores or J Sainsbury to buy macaroni and […]

“Daylight swabbery”

Mike Zollo

Starstruck? It’s not often that I derive inspiration from the front page of the Daily Star, but there we have it: this front page synthesised and articulated my feelings about the sheer bare-faced exploitation which has all too often characterised so much of the ‘economic activity’ surrounding the management of the coronavirus pandemic in the […]

“They don’t like it up ’em!” Dad’s Army Brexitland

Mike Zollo

Some might feel that Brexit is trying to take us back to the rather quaint England portrayed in Dad’s Army, a world in which the country had its back against the wall fending off an evil foe, when patriotic, nationalist spirit was generated by its leaders and xenophobia was fostered to fuel the determination to […]

Gnasher strikes again!

Mike Zollo
cartoon of cyclist being chased by a dog

If there’s one thing that’s just as divisive as Brexit, it’s the ‘cat/dog’ schism. OK, I’ll admit it: I’ve always preferred cats, and over the 50 years or so we’ve had our own home, we’ve usually had one or more moggy sharing our space. As for dogs, I’d be the first to admit that I’ve […]

Costa Britannia? Bremaining in Spain after Brexit

Mike Zollo
view of Malaga

Brexit has had a devastating impact on the many British citizens who have second homes on the continent. Mike Zollo explains the work of campaign and support organisation Bremain in Spain. For my wife and me, as for many thousands of British nationals who spend time in Spain and/or have their own properties there, the […]

The rain in Spain falls… oh, wait! It doesn’t!

Mike Zollo

We are all being showered with news and comment about COP26 … but what is the Spanish context regarding the environment and climate change, and how is the climate conference viewed in Spain? Crucial! El Mundo reported on 30 October that the COP26 ‘guerra del clima’ (climate war) was starting in Glasgow “in the midst […]

REDmembrance and the poppy

Mike Zollo

Red is and always has been my favourite colour. I am by no means unusual in this: red is one of the top two favourite colours. It is also a colour which represents so much. Red is the colour of love, fire, blood, the sun, energy, life-force, violence, danger, anger, adventure and extremes. It can […]

Living in a grown-up country. Spoiler alert: it’s not the UK…

Mike Zollo

When we arrived in Spain recently, we commented that it felt reassuring to be arriving in a ‘grown-up country’. It struck us as soon as we started our drive south, immediately becoming aware of the fact that everyone was wearing face-masks, as required in indoor public places; a high number of people show the same […]

Le mot injuste…

Mike Zollo

As a lifelong linguist, I am only too aware of the power of language: its power to communicate or obfuscate, impress or offend, please or disappoint. Language is power. Years of study, experience and teaching language have blessed – or cursed – me with an acute sense of the value of language, and a feel […]

The double whammy: Covid-19 and Brexit in Spain

Mike Zollo

Part one: Si no vuelves … (If you don’t come back …) An account of our recent trip to Spain in times of Covid-19, and our first post Brexit A few weeks ago, half way across the Bay of Biscay on Brittany Ferries’ Pont Aven, returning from a long visit to Spain, I listened to […]

School trips abroad: the “Grand Tour”, blighted by Brexit

Mike Zollo

Cultural osmosis For many decades, visits, homestays and courses abroad in the country of the ‘target language’ have been considered essential to the study of a foreign language, both for UK young people going abroad and for young EU nationals coming to the UK. Indeed, this is nothing new: human beings have always travelled, mixed […]

What about MY freedom of movement? Culture tests – part 2

Mike Zollo

In The culture test: Welcoming new citizens or a way to stop immigration? Part 1, we found that the culture tests for the EU countries considered so far appear to be designed to welcome prospective new citizens, whilst the UK test seems more like a method to stop immigration. I had hoped in this second […]

“Get Britain on its bike”- part 3: E-asy cycling!

Mike Zollo
two mountain e-bikes

In Parts One and Two of this Cycle-paths series, we covered the subject of cycle routes, both on and off-road, for commuting and for leisure. However, ‘leisure’ can be a misnomer where the physical effort to cover distances and climb hills is concerned. If you, Dear Reader, feel a degree of cynicism stemming from concern […]

El show del Brexit cumple cinco años

Mike Zollo
article in El Mundo/5 years since Brexit. Vote Leave supporters branish union flags

The Brexit Show reaches its fifth birthday Why the Spanish are so pro-EU My Spanish friends and acquaintances, all Anglophiles, have watched bemused and befuddled as the UK has shot itself in the foot in what many have called ‘an act of national suicide’. Hardly surprising that the Spanish are so puzzled by Brexit, Spain […]

“Get Britain on its bike” – Part 2: cycling home and away on routes with roots!

Mike Zollo

“Boris Johnson ‘obsessed’ with encouraging cycling” “Cycling is a top priority in Prime Minister’s drive to tackle obesity in fight against Covid-19 in the UK.” So said Cyclist magazine on 15 May 2020, adding that “Boris Johnson believes that the coronavirus crisis presents the perfect opportunity to ‘get Britain on its bike’ to enable social distancing […]

“Get Britain on its bike”- part 1: cycle-paths

Mike Zollo
Boris Johnson on a pushbike

what might encourage people to take up cycling, and what support and infrastructure exist to foster cycling … and what might put potential cyclists off! ‘Cyclist’ is a very broad term, ranging from those using two wheels to commute to work or to travel from a to b, through leisure cyclists and touring cyclists to serious club and competition cyclists.

The UK’s shameful hostile environment is persecuting hope

Mike Zollo

“As I approached one of the drowned corpses on the beach, that of a young lad, the mobile phone in his pocket began to ring; I guess it was his mother or girlfriend ringing to ask if he had arrived safely …” The words of a Spanish Red Cross worker dealing with bodies washed up […]

The culture test: Welcoming new citizens or a way to stop immigration?

Mike Zollo

An elderly Italian lady, who has lived in the UK for 75 years and has British citizenship, was hoping that her niece could come over from Italy to be her ‘badante’ (carer). She said recently that her niece “can just come over with her ID card”… NO, post-Brexit she would now need an expensive passport, […]

Boris Johnson IS Pinocchio! How the Italian press see our PM – and us

Mike Zollo

Remember when Johnson senior accused the British public of illiteracy, saying they would not be able to spell Pinocchio? This was the evasive response to a Tweet calling Boris Johnson ‘Pinocchio’ – a liar. Now, who else can we think of who uses that sort of evasive technique?! The Italian press is still fascinated by […]

“Fascism has never gone away…” Letters to the editor from Spain

Mike Zollo

The following is a compilation of the comments made by members of Bremain (in Spain), most of whom are Brits living in Spain or who know the country well. These comments are their reactions to the West Country Voices article Democracy breaks up from the inside, which went online on 25 February. Lisa Ryan Burton […]

Helping the police with their enquiries

Mike Zollo

Police interpreting: racism and xenophobia ‒ hardly a new phenomenon The southwest of our country has always attracted many Europeans, and not just tourists: many work in our schools, hospitals, hotels and restaurants, for example… and one mustn’t forget the language students who attend language schools in so many of our towns and cities. They […]

¿Cómo nos ven? How the Spanish press sees us

Mike Zollo

“Always look at both sides of the argument before you decide”, my father used to say in his wisdom when I was young. His life’s experience had taught him that: he had grown up as a young man who was categorised as an ‘enemy alien’ in 1939, yet who volunteered to join the British Army […]

The Brexit classic car crash

Mike Zollo

“We were lied to by the UK government implying that we had an FTA but actually giving us a no-deal.” Never mind its obsession with removing our freedom of movement, the Government has driven us into Brexit: a classic car crash! Like so many other areas of economic activity in the UK, particularly SMEs (Small […]