I had wanted to live where my ancestors came from 300-400 years ago, but I wasn’t expecting to be where I finally ended up. Britain seemed like home up until 2016 and the vote to leave the European Union. Now I feel like a lorry driver in a Kent lot when it comes to Britain and the European Union.

My first reaction to Brexit was to get European residency, which I have had since July 2018. European residency isn’t had to get: especially if one is retired and has a steady income. France also makes it easy to get residency if one wants to learn the language (that is a valid reason to be a resident). Most European countries require language proficiency for citizenship, which is good since I am proficient in the languages of the countries where I am resident.

Belgium and France feel comfortable to me. Germany, not so much, although it is getting more multicultural. The doner kebab is a national food, as opposed to the bland stuff I remember from when I was a kid.

I used to joke that I had never seen a Euro even though I had spent quite a few of them. Not so much of a joke since the Euro started its existence as a virtual currency and wasn’t really brought into actual circulation until 2002. The notes are pretty boring, but the coins actually have a national flavour. The coins have a standard side and a national side. And I’ve seen Euro coins from all the Eurozone countries.

The notes are different. The 11 digit serial number on every note begins with a prefix which identifies which country issued it. German notes begin with an X, Greek notes start with a Y, Spain’s have a V, France a U, Ireland T, Portugal M, Italy S, Belgium is Z, Cyprus G, Luxembourg 1, Malta F, Netherlands P, Austria N, Slovenia H, Slovakia E and Finland L. A more arcane test is that the serial number also contains a secret clue to the country which issued the note. The clue lies in what is known as the digital root of the serial number. This can be calculated by adding together the digits, then taking the result and adding its digits together again and so on until a single digit is left. For example. On a note where the code reads X50446027856. The X immediately indicates that the note is German, but a second test is to add the digits. So (5+0+4+4+6+0+2+7+8+5+6) gives 47. Add these digits (4+7) gives 11. Finally add these digits (1+1) gives 2, the code number for Germany. Some countries share a code number.

The nice thing is that one doesn’t have to change currencies at the border the way things were pre-European Monetary Union. On the other hand, the Euros in my wallet may not reflect where I happen to live. The money has free movement, as do the citizens of the European Union.

BTW, there are seven kingdoms in modern Europe: Denmark, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Spain, the Netherlands and Belgium.

Personally, I’ve always opted for the more inclusive nationality whether it is British or European.

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