There’ll always be an England: Madrid week four

I didn’t write a blog post last week as I was rather ill (fortunately not with coronavirus…) and consequently did not get up to anything of note. As of tomorrow, I’ll have been in Madrid for a month, which seems rather unbelievable.

I’ve been feeling a bit homesick this week. It’s funny the strange things I’ve been missing: cars driving on the left, properly green grass, the reliably unreliable weather. However, since midnight on Friday, I’ve started to wonder if there is really anything else about home to miss.

The same nostalgia that led so many older people to vote to leave the EU in 2016 afflicts me from time to time, but I’m not hearkening back to the sixties, when the extreme hardship of the war was finally receding into the past and Britain started to boom. My thoughts stray more often to the Britain of my own childhood, when it felt that things really could only get better — I think my earliest memory is seeing John Major on the telly after his defeat in the 1997 general election. It seemed that the country was going in the right direction for once. It’s unsurprising that I felt that way, as the new Labour government was in broad political agreement with my parents’ beliefs.

But of course, this idealised image I have of the country from the early 2000s is at odds both with how things really were back then and with the country I see today: bitterly divided, politically fractured and obstinately following through with the self-destruction that is Brexit.

I do not miss that country at all.

A couple of people in the office have asked me how I feel now that I am no longer a European citizen. I can only say that I am sad, angry and embarrassed at how Brexit has been carried out. I still don’t completely understand it or why it had to happen.

I’ll carry on missing the grass and the backwards way we drive, and the horrible weather, though. I guess that’s pretty much all that England means to me at the moment.

Work-wise, I’m still ploughing on with writing my compact object merger mock dataset creating code, which is proving to be a real challenge. The error calculation has to fold in all sorts of quantities that I’m unfamiliar with (post-Newtonian expansion coefficients, anyone?), and to make matters more difficult, some of the example calculations in the literature seem to conflict with others. This is compounded by many authors creating their own notation for various quantities. It’s going to take me a long time to disentangle everything.

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