It sounds perverse, but for some of us the twin disasters have strengthened the bond we feel with our new home
Mutant-Covid, pre-Brexit Christmas seems like a cruel but fitting ending to a year that has seen a reckoning with mortality and extreme limitations on travel. This year has forced many of us from EU countries living in Britain to consider what it means to “belong”. After news of the border closures streamed in over the weekend, my friend Rob was contemplating making it back to Ireland for Christmas through Northern Ireland, then reconsidered. Another friend had come back from Berlin to quarantine before seeing her father, who had been ill last year. After the tier 4 announcement she booked her return flights to Berlin and left six hours later without seeing her dad.
Of course, some fled back to their countries of origin during earlier stages of the pandemic, or had left for Christmas already, or hastened to get out ahead of the mutant virus. But for those of us who stayed – and are now receiving concerned and pitying messages from our friends and families in Europe – there remains a grim determination to double down on our commitment to the place we’ve chosen as a home in the UK – in my case London.