Day 6: Groombridge to East Grinstead

General Jane

Powering along ancient rail tracks into East Grinstead with General Jane leading the way. I have long discovered that the simplest way for me to walk in harmony with Jane is to do exactly what she commands me to do. There is little point arguing with high command especially when she has the map.

And Jane she has learned from years of practise to give me short thrift. “Do stop arguing and complaining” she yells at me whenever she sees a glimmer of backsliding.

Jane’s most irritating word after I have spent hours plodding up a vast hill is:
“Oh Bugga!” This means we have to back track half a mile to walk as the satnav walking device has gone haywire or she has misread the map. There is no point in my complaining, I have to grin plod to the next turning and bear it with as good a grace as I can muster.

In an earlier century General Jane would have gained fame by leading a group of distressed orphans over winding, snowy tracks in the Himalayas to save them from a fate worse than death. She is a truly courageous, wonderful, intrepid and immensely kind woman and I am profoundly fortunate to have her in my life.

Where am I?

I am at the stage in the walk when I have been in so many houses when I wake up I have no idea where on earth I am. I tell my hosts that, if they find me wandering round their bedroom at 3am, not to worry: I am just trying to find a loo!


I recall, a couple of years back, a poster in Worcester Cathedral proclaiming, “Worcester Cathedral welcomes immigrants”.

I thought at the time that this was one of the most hypocritical, virtue-signalling balls ever to have shamed the good old C of E. Neither the dean nor his church has to plan the logistics, or pay for the housing, education or health needs to make this “welcome” a reality. I made a vow to ask the man (why man?) how many immigrants he was actually housing in his deanery and personally paying for, but I forgot.

Then I wrote a bit in my last blog about the problem of immigration and I got quite a postbag, as was bound to happen. People are always edgy about discussing this issue because they don’t want to be thought of as “politically incorrect”. I tell those worrying about my imminent arrest from the thought police that I am old and more or less harmless, and so I need counselling rather than Belmarsh. Counselling seems to be all the rage these days, so why not give it a go?  

The Donald Effect

But I digress… so here goes. Good old Donald generates truly ghastly publicity, but occasionally he raises issues that no one else dares discuss. He threatens to close US borders and call in the military to stop tens of thousand illegal Mexican chancers and would-be-asylum seekers from crossing the Mexican/US border to settle illegally in the US. He did this in the sure knowledge that he was bound to offend every liberal-do-gooder and virtue signaller in the world all over again.

The image of millions of tearful women holding screaming babies and insisting never to return to their ghastly homeland is a vision of the future.

Trump tries to excuse his rhetoric by proclaiming these immigrants are “bad” people but of course he misses the point. There are bound to be some rotten apples amongst the immigrant throng, but the point is they are not “bad” people: they are just “people”. Which one of us, if broke, unemployed and living in chaotic and violent conditions, would not try to move our family over the border to a dreamland of milk and honey?

These would-be immigrants want to raise their families in better homes and seek the chance of a decent job. They want to create a better life somewhere else. Of course, they all want to come and live where we live, don’t they? If the tables were turned, wouldn’t we?

They are all deserving folk who in the lottery of life have had the misfortune to be born, for example, in a rat-infested slum in Zimbabwe or some other poor African state. Or they come from Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala or El Salvador. These places suffer from high crime, and heroic levels of corruption and instability. Life for their inhabitants can be nasty, brutish and short.

In TV interviews, we see tearful families proclaiming they have travelled vast distances, fought through dreadful dangers, and suffered exploitation, robbery and rape. They are often well-educated, quietly spoken and worthy. All they want is a safe haven in which they can work hard and be good citizens. These interviews are often introduced by an indignant Jon Snow with some poor foreign office minister cowering and stammering uselessly in the background. Each immigrant has a sad and deserving story to tell, and our implacable government clutching its quotas always sounds like a cold-hearted bastard.

In each case, I say to myself: “This poor sod could be me!”

Facing Facts

If the test for entry to the UK was whether a person was a worthy human being, or came from a worse place than here, then it’s a wrap, discussion over. We are nice people and so we have to let them in. All of them. Don’t we?

But the “right” conversation is practically impossible.

Europe sits next to Africa – and Africa is forecast to have the world’s greatest population explosion, with an extra 1.3 billion people living there by 2050. The continent is prone to drought, climate change, often-terrible governance and seemingly never-ending wars. But most Africans have mobile phones so they can see what the likes of leafy Basingstoke, Guildford and Edinburgh are like. However, they are there, and we are here – and of course they can’t all come, can they?   

We face a vast problem. I reckon that the throngs of immigrants we have seen since 2015 are just the first lapping of the waves, for the tsunami is yet to come. You see, organised assaults of people storming borders simultaneously have had astonishing success.

So when the wised-up hopefuls all hit the Med in a Dunkirk flotilla of boats, all setting off on the same afternoon with synchronised watches, what will we do? This is bound to happen, and soon. Just picture it. A tide of tens of thousands of decent people, all weeping and waving their hands, all in need of food, clean water and peace, all holding crying babies, and all coming over here in a vast flotilla. 

This will, I forecast, constitute a potent form of moral blackmail. Will navies be able to use force to turn them back? As they say in Northumberland, Gerraway! Can you really see liberal societies tolerating the sight of soldiers and police shooting at boatloads of unarmed women and children?  Of course not.

If we continue to face the issue of immigration as a matter of kindness and sympathy rather than crude self-interest, then almost anyone can get in.

Over the next few decades, we are bound to be facing immigration pressures, the like of which we have never seen before. How many more “good” people do you want living in your town or village? 

So, chaos or a hard heart? It’s one hell of a choice.

Either way, the left-wing media, and Jon Snow and chums are bound to love it.  

1 comment

    • Frances on February 5, 2020 at 3:53 am
    • Reply

    absolutely brilliant – so enjoying reading your Blog

    Frances and Hugh Simpson in Naivasha Kenya

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