By Anita Graafland

Photo by Ekaterina Belinskaya:

Photo by Ekaterina Belinskaya

“Mum, they didn’t let me through.”

Whaat?! I’d been reading a mind-numbing bodice-ripper late in the evening while talking to my daughter, who had been in touch off and on to keep me posted on her journey back from the south of France with her uni group of fellow art students. Their flight had been delayed by the storm and then been diverted to Birmingham, where they’d been sitting on the tarmac for two hours before being let off the plane to a coach that would take them on to their original destination of Bristol.

Instead of the warm fuzziness of brain-off late-night reading, I was wide awake and immediately assaulted by all the fears that had been building inside of me ever since Brexit turned travelling to and from the UK into an angst-ridden experience instead of an easy journey much like taking the train between Amsterdam and Rotterdam.

By now, I’ve let go of the fear for myself. Having decided to return to Amsterdam after Brexit, the worst that could happen to me now would be to be denied entry and not be allowed to spend my disposable income in Cornwall. In fact, I’m beginning to suspect they actually like visitors such as me. Must be the car I drive. Or perhaps the obvious impossibility of me applying for a job in the UK. Or maybe the UK Border Force actually knows that Dutch health care is high quality and much more readily available, so I’d be unlikely to abuse the NHS. Whatever the answer, I’m invariably waved through.

But if they didn’t let in my 20-year-old with her settled status, what would happen next? Oh god, I’d have to warn our CfE press officer to issue an immediate release. Get my friend Em to warn her parents if my daughter was sent back to southern France to ask if she could stay with them. Should I kick out the friend currently in my Amsterdam apartment, so she could move there? What did we need to do next? I was actually in Cornwall myself, so rushing up to meet her would be moot if they sent her back to the Continent.

“Mum, mum, it’s all right. I’m through now and my group waited up for me.”

She was exhausted and didn’t want to explain what had happened until a day later. Didn’t have the energy to reassure me, she said. I tried to put it behind me and went back to my book. But I couldn’t help getting emotional over what we’ve lost. Over how ease of travelling between “my” two countries has now become fraught with tension.

[The storm and the teacup: like her uni mates, she tried to get through the electronic gates, but was refused entry. Directed to see a real person, it took her student ID and her old and new passport to be admitted. No need to show the sheaf of papers she always carries with her these days.]

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