Author: Mike Zollo

The rain in Spain falls… oh, wait! It doesn’t!

Mike Zollo

We are all being showered with news and comment about COP26 … but what is the Spanish context regarding the environment and climate change, and how is the climate conference viewed in Spain? Crucial! El Mundo reported on 30 October that the COP26 ‘guerra del clima’ (climate war) was starting in Glasgow “in the midst […]

REDmembrance and the poppy

Mike Zollo

Red is and always has been my favourite colour. I am by no means unusual in this: red is one of the top two favourite colours. It is also a colour which represents so much. Red is the colour of love, fire, blood, the sun, energy, life-force, violence, danger, anger, adventure and extremes. It can […]

Living in a grown-up country. Spoiler alert: it’s not the UK…

Mike Zollo

When we arrived in Spain recently, we commented that it felt reassuring to be arriving in a ‘grown-up country’. It struck us as soon as we started our drive south, immediately becoming aware of the fact that everyone was wearing face-masks, as required in indoor public places; a high number of people show the same […]

Le mot injuste…

Mike Zollo

As a lifelong linguist, I am only too aware of the power of language: its power to communicate or obfuscate, impress or offend, please or disappoint. Language is power. Years of study, experience and teaching language have blessed – or cursed – me with an acute sense of the value of language, and a feel […]

The double whammy: Covid-19 and Brexit in Spain

Mike Zollo

Part one: Si no vuelves … (If you don’t come back …) An account of our recent trip to Spain in times of Covid-19, and our first post Brexit A few weeks ago, half way across the Bay of Biscay on Brittany Ferries’ Pont Aven, returning from a long visit to Spain, I listened to […]

School trips abroad: the “Grand Tour”, blighted by Brexit

Mike Zollo

Cultural osmosis For many decades, visits, homestays and courses abroad in the country of the ‘target language’ have been considered essential to the study of a foreign language, both for UK young people going abroad and for young EU nationals coming to the UK. Indeed, this is nothing new: human beings have always travelled, mixed […]

What about MY freedom of movement? Culture tests – part 2

Mike Zollo

In The culture test: Welcoming new citizens or a way to stop immigration? Part 1, we found that the culture tests for the EU countries considered so far appear to be designed to welcome prospective new citizens, whilst the UK test seems more like a method to stop immigration. I had hoped in this second […]

“Get Britain on its bike”- part 3: E-asy cycling!

Mike Zollo
two mountain e-bikes

In Parts One and Two of this Cycle-paths series, we covered the subject of cycle routes, both on and off-road, for commuting and for leisure. However, ‘leisure’ can be a misnomer where the physical effort to cover distances and climb hills is concerned. If you, Dear Reader, feel a degree of cynicism stemming from concern […]

El show del Brexit cumple cinco años

Mike Zollo
article in El Mundo/5 years since Brexit. Vote Leave supporters branish union flags

The Brexit Show reaches its fifth birthday Why the Spanish are so pro-EU My Spanish friends and acquaintances, all Anglophiles, have watched bemused and befuddled as the UK has shot itself in the foot in what many have called ‘an act of national suicide’. Hardly surprising that the Spanish are so puzzled by Brexit, Spain […]

“Get Britain on its bike” – Part 2: cycling home and away on routes with roots!

Mike Zollo

“Boris Johnson ‘obsessed’ with encouraging cycling” “Cycling is a top priority in Prime Minister’s drive to tackle obesity in fight against Covid-19 in the UK.” So said Cyclist magazine on 15 May 2020, adding that “Boris Johnson believes that the coronavirus crisis presents the perfect opportunity to ‘get Britain on its bike’ to enable social distancing […]

“Get Britain on its bike”- part 1: cycle-paths

Mike Zollo
Boris Johnson on a pushbike

what might encourage people to take up cycling, and what support and infrastructure exist to foster cycling … and what might put potential cyclists off! ‘Cyclist’ is a very broad term, ranging from those using two wheels to commute to work or to travel from a to b, through leisure cyclists and touring cyclists to serious club and competition cyclists.

The UK’s shameful hostile environment is persecuting hope

Mike Zollo

“As I approached one of the drowned corpses on the beach, that of a young lad, the mobile phone in his pocket began to ring; I guess it was his mother or girlfriend ringing to ask if he had arrived safely …” The words of a Spanish Red Cross worker dealing with bodies washed up […]

The culture test: Welcoming new citizens or a way to stop immigration?

Mike Zollo

An elderly Italian lady, who has lived in the UK for 75 years and has British citizenship, was hoping that her niece could come over from Italy to be her ‘badante’ (carer). She said recently that her niece “can just come over with her ID card”… NO, post-Brexit she would now need an expensive passport, […]

Boris Johnson IS Pinocchio! How the Italian press see our PM – and us

Mike Zollo

Remember when Johnson senior accused the British public of illiteracy, saying they would not be able to spell Pinocchio? This was the evasive response to a Tweet calling Boris Johnson ‘Pinocchio’ – a liar. Now, who else can we think of who uses that sort of evasive technique?! The Italian press is still fascinated by […]

“Fascism has never gone away…” Letters to the editor from Spain

Mike Zollo

The following is a compilation of the comments made by members of Bremain (in Spain), most of whom are Brits living in Spain or who know the country well. These comments are their reactions to the West Country Bylines article Democracy breaks up from the inside, which went online on 25 February. Lisa Ryan Burton […]

Helping the police with their enquiries

Mike Zollo

Police interpreting: racism and xenophobia ‒ hardly a new phenomenon The southwest of our country has always attracted many Europeans, and not just tourists: many work in our schools, hospitals, hotels and restaurants, for example… and one mustn’t forget the language students who attend language schools in so many of our towns and cities. They […]

¿Cómo nos ven? How the Spanish press sees us

Mike Zollo

“Always look at both sides of the argument before you decide”, my father used to say in his wisdom when I was young. His life’s experience had taught him that: he had grown up as a young man who was categorised as an ‘enemy alien’ in 1939, yet who volunteered to join the British Army […]

The Brexit classic car crash

Mike Zollo

“We were lied to by the UK government implying that we had an FTA but actually giving us a no-deal.” Never mind its obsession with removing our freedom of movement, the Government has driven us into Brexit: a classic car crash! Like so many other areas of economic activity in the UK, particularly SMEs (Small […]

“Democracy breaks up from the inside”

Mike Zollo

Officer sacked for celebrating the sins of father Wednesday 19 March 2014, The Times “Spain’s military has dismissed a senior officer for celebrating the anniversary of an attempted coup by his father in 1981 which threatened to destroy the country’s young democracy and turn it back into a dictatorship.” This report in The Times in […]

Flag of convenience

Mike Zollo

“A poke in the eye! That’s what you’ll get, so I’ll take your sticks away before you hurt one another!” Imagine a little 6-year-old boy, so excited at holding his very own flag for the first time. As we lined up in the school yard ready to troop off to the venue at which hundreds […]

Has Brexit wrecked my life’s work?

Mike Zollo

“You may buy from us in English … but you must sell to us in my language!” This much-quoted maxim highlights the importance of language skills to international trade. What German Chancellor Willy Brandt actually said in the early 1970s was: “If I’m selling to you, I speak your language. If I’m buying, dann müssen […]

Beeswax and bloomers

Mike Zollo
Woman in jeans, back view with anti Brexit stickers on pockets

Continuing Mike Zollo’s article on Devon companies hit hard by Brexit red tape. You can read part 1 here. Gilboy’s Beeswax I have been in business restoring antiques for 27 years. Over the past five years our business has been fortunate to change and evolve from a local service to an international e-commerce business. We […]

Bikes, beeswax and bloomers – all b*ll*xed by Brexit. Part 1 -bikes

Mike Zollo

Back in 2000, Totnes was absorbed with the romantic phenomenon of a ‘world-beating’ local product: the catamaran Team Philips, the largest yacht ever built, designed to break the record time for sailing around the world. Like many Totnes families, we helped to sponsor it, and our names were among thousands painted on the hull. As […]

Coping with Covid-19 in a ‘pueblo blanco’

Mike Zollo

I’m afraid I am one of those people who feels ill whenever I am confronted with the jingoistic boastfulness, British exceptionalism and tribalism generated by Brexit.  It is especially sickening to see it amplified in any public statements made by the Government in connection with the pandemic. I have never been willing to be dragged […]

In a stew over fish…

Mike Zollo

From fish’n’chips to calamares In my childhood days, my experience of fish was usually limited to a somewhat greasy lump of batter, with a trace of white matter within it, presumably cod, accompanied by equally greasy, soggy chips. They were served in newspaper, liberally sprinkled with salt and vinegar. Perhaps my palate-memory is rather jaded […]

John le Carré: Traitor or Patriot?

Mike Zollo

“El Brexit es la mayor idiotez perpetrada por el Reino Unido” “Brexit is the greatest act of stupidity perpetrated by the United Kingdom” For many years I have followed with interest how some elements of the European press present the UK. Whenever there is a major event, it is fascinating to compare the treatment of […]