‘This EU passport is an outrage. I want a British one!’ Not my words, Cydney’s. The spaniel is coming round to my way of thinking on the EU referendum after visiting the vet’s to get the necessary paperwork for her forthcoming trip to the Dordogne — or Dor-DOG-ne, as she prefers to call it.
After spending a small fortune on her bed and board at the dogsitter the last time I went away, I decided she would come on holiday with me this summer.
As soon as I have cast my Leave vote on 23 June, I shall be packing us into the Volvo and heading for the Eurotunnel and a lovely break in a gite in France. If the result of the referendum is that we are to remain in the EU, I shall be doing a spot of house-hunting while I am there too.
What a contradiction that sounds, on the face of it. But really, it makes perfect sense. If Britain is to become a minor outpost of a nation called the United States of Europe, I do not want to live in it. To do so would be to become a shivering denizen of the rainiest, most irrelevant part of the empire, with virtually no say at all in the laws governing me, nor any idea of what the politicians involved in making them are up to.
To wit, if we are to lose all power over our destiny for ever, if we are finally to resign ourselves once and for all to being run by people who have barely heard of themselves, if someone called Federica Mogherini is really going to be in charge of our foreign and security policy, then I wish to be on the move, migrant style. I do not wish to live in the scrag-end of the enterprise, where they store all the citizens who have no respect for women’s rights and who, once their numbers reach a tipping point, will have me living under a big black sheet before I can say Emmeline Pankhurst.
No. I want to live in the good bit, the bit where the politicians I elect make all the big decisions, and where I can buy a huge house with 35 acres for the equivalent in euros of £400,000 — which wouldn’t buy you a two-bed dormer bungalow in the Home Counties, where, in the event of a Remain vote, you will soon be expected to live in communities so crowded and with so little access to medical care, education and policing that they will be no more salubrious than refugee camps.
So I took the spaniel to get a passport after ringing the vet for an estimate. ‘It will be £110,’ said the receptionist. ‘Is that £110 in total or £110 and then a load more on top when I come to pay?’ I asked, thinking back to Cydney’s recent lumpectomy when I stormed out after the estimate grew, like a tumour itself, into £1,250, exc. VAT.
‘Yes, absolutely, £110 in total.’ ‘So nothing else on top?’ ‘No, that’s it …unless you need some wormer.’ ‘No, I have wormer, thank you. So I shall expect to pay £110 exactly then, yes?’ ‘Yes, £110,’ she said. ‘Final price £110? Definite?’ ‘Definite.’
On the appointed day, the vet did his examination, gave Cydney the mandatory rabies jab, issued the passport and talked me through the rules that required me to visit a vétérinaire for tapewormer before our return.
‘And you will need to give her this,’ he said, putting something called Advantix down on the counter. ‘It’s the best thing for ticks when you’re in France.’
Clever, clever! The receptionist had warned me I might need wormer, but she hadn’t mentioned the whole French monster tick prevention scheme thing. That they would spring on me when I was helpless to object.
Of course, the Advantix tipped the bill over.
‘That will be £149, with the Advantix,’ said the cheery receptionist, snatching my debit card with her crafty little paws.
‘Yes, I suppose it will,’ I said. Really, you have to hand it to them. Anyone who devises such beguiling ways of seamlessly extracting cash almost deserves it.
The most important thing was that Cyd now had a passport. ‘Here you are, Cydney,’ I said, putting it down in front of her. She picked it up in her mouth, threw it back down, looked at the EU stars and then back at me as if to say ‘What the…?’
There is a little square inside it in which I can stick a picture, described as optional. I think I will, just to give her the full experience.
I might even take her to a photo booth, instruct her to look straight into the lens and not smile. ‘Think of England disappearing, that’s it….’