I had never expected that my European parents’ status in the UK would come under question after about four decades, but with the Brexit vote it did. More than that, I’d never expected having to teach them how to use a smartphone.
My mother has refused point blank to engage in mobile phones or the internet — she is a creature of the analogue age. My father’s not much better.
But Sajid Javid, the Home Secretary, is the man who may finally tip them over the edge with the announcement that EU citizens will sign up for their settled status in the UK via a smartphone app.
I imagine myself and many other children of older parents huddling around mobile-phone screens with them to fill out the forms: time to repay the favour to the parents who made you British in the first place.
Credit to Javid, and his predecessor at the Home Office Amber Rudd, for producing what seems to be a straightforward process — three questions and a tax records run. Credit, too, to the EU27, who have insisted from the start of the negotiations that this be a simple and cheap process.
For a brief moment, we seem civilised in a world in which the hostility to migration has risen to vicious levels: the guiding principle was laid out by Javid yesterday: the Government is “looking to grant, not for reasons to refuse”.
There will be niggles in the system when it opens at the end of the year, and an old-fashioned paperwork route for those who simply won’t submit to the digital age.
But there are still three more questions to be answered. Why were they ever pawns in the Brexit negotiations? This process is part of the withdrawal deal — so if no deal is agreed with the EU, will they still get settled status? And will my parents have mastered the smartphone app in vain?
A World Cup that’s fit for Eurovision
Argentina v Croatia was watched last night not in a pub but on a laptop outside at the Dean Street Townhouse, with a group of friends and a steady flow of G&Ts and whisky sours. A gay friend declared his interest in this match was Sergio Aguero, but in his books the whole Iceland team would get the full nine points on hotness.
Another male friend, straight, has spent the tournament admiring the physique of Ronaldo. This is not football terrace talk on a Saturday afternoon. The more I watch the World Cup, the closer it seems in spirit to Eurovision. Just don’t tell the boys on the pitch that.
The subversive line in Melania’s clothes
For a woman who barely speaks, Melania certainly has a way of conveying a message: on the back of a jacket.
And for someone so meticulous in her fashion choices, you can hardly imagine her just grabbing the nearest thing.
So what could she mean by wearing the “I really don’t care, do u?” line as she went off to visit the immigrant children who’d been separated from their parents and held in cages in Texas?
Her husband, the President, this morning tried to explain it as a reference to fake news media, which itself might be fake news.
The thing about Melania is this: she’s a little bit dangerous. She was the first of the First Ladies to condemn the Texas child separations, and got straight on that jet. She won’t hold his hand. Was this slogan actually her conveying his opinion?
I’m inclined to think if Melania’s clothes carry meaning, they are her subversive weapon. She does irony, which might be lost on American husbands.
I’m transported by my delight in trains
Last week I mentioned I’d got lost in computer games, specifically Sid Meier’s Railroads! I managed to kick the habit on Saturday by transferring my rail fixation to the real world — planning an epic Interrailing trip with my 16-year-old this summer, an arc of day trains, night trains, hostels and Airbnbs from Krakow through Prague, Vienna, Venice and Lucerne up to Paris, every seat and bed reserved, every train time noted carefully in the diary.
Who knows what we will do when we arrive in each city? I hardly care — it’s all about the train timetables. The journey is the destination.