Saturday 1 July 2017

The Continent

I have to say, regardless of his long and, er, distinguished record as far as BBC bias is concerned, that the BBC's Europe Correspondent Kevin Connolly is a very stylish contributor to From Our Own Correspondent and I've enjoyed many of his recent pieces.

His piece on why it's hard to be a Kevin in France has me chuckling along (there's a BBC website write-up here) and today's piece on his first trip to the continent in 1972, the year before Britain entered the European Community, made me smile several times too. 

As the programme's website blurb makes clear....

.... Kevin was to make rather heavy weather of the fact that back in 1972 people in the UK used to refer to mainland Europe as 'The Continent', as in 'We're going to The Continent this year'. 

The funny thing is that I, who was only just out of my terrible twos in 1972, still talk of 'The Continent' when thinking about mainland Europe. I've probably done it ever since I learned to speak. Worse, I've even been saying it in the past few weeks, given that I've been telling people (and am now telling you) that I'm having my first holiday on 'The Continent' for eight years later this year. It's obviously just something I unthinkingly say. 

I didn't realise that people don't say that anymore, apparently. Or that it's a relic of the past that needs putting in inverted commas whenever it's recalled, apparently.

Unless people do still say that and it's just Kevin Connolly, other BBC types and assorted Europhiles who can't believe people ever used to say such a thing.

I don't know what the point of this post is but it was occupying my mind so I thought I'd share. 


  1. Going to the continent was something only upper middle class people did before the advent of jet travel. Most working class people being sensible folk are only interested in the warm sea and sunshine...and the cheap booze. So they go to the Med, not much worrying about which country they are in. If they were going somewhere like the Czech Republic they might say they were going to Europe, not the continent and certainly not "Mainland Europe".

    The funny thing is that our pro-EU elite - because the EU is a kind of substitute for the glory days of Empire (scratch a pro-EU globalist and you'll more often than not find a strong imperialist influence in their family background) - cannot bear to simply refer to the land mass as "the mainland". Because that would make it sound like we were some rather minor offshore outpost of the new EU empire.

    1. Well, that makes it even worse for me. Not only saying 'The Continent' but also constantly writing 'mainland Europe'. 'Mainland Europe' is another term I unthinkingly use. If Mark Mardell hears about this he'll be rushing up to Morecambe to slyly insult me as a Little Englander.


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