(Disclaimer: the following article is indeed non-fictional but does not intend to judge anyone or tarnish anyone´s reputation, as there are no names of persons, specific locations such as bars, restaurants or clubs mentioned. It is a slightly critical essay about a small town on the Channel Islands in Guernsey, the capital city, to be more precise.)
St. Peter Port was like the roaring twenties, like a ball, a play from Fitzgerald or Thackeray, like the people would finally be allowed to enjoy the access to alcohol in an era of prohibition. The Jazz age. The age of nonsense and crazy parties.
Back in the day, that time was marked by dramatic political and social change. For the first time, more Americans lived in the cities than on the countryside. The country´s total wealth more than doubled in that era. A rapid change in culture, society and art. The roaring twenties: Liberal, young, wild. The Lost Generation, Hemingway; they fled to Europe, often Paris. The war was finally over.
F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote about the twenties: ”The restlessness approached hysteria. The parties were bigger. The pace was faster, the shows were broader, the buildings were higher, the morals were looser, and the liquor was cheaper”. It´s a good quote to picture the Guernsey lifestyle. The lifestyle, everyone wants to be a part of somehow. It´s fun, it´s easy going, it´s a big party like Ibiza or spring break.
Some people are quite rich. It´s not just that the foreigners are using foreign companies through outsourcing and offshore investment. Even the Queen seems to invest offshore.
Children acting like grown-ups, adults acting like teenagers. Teenagers doing whatever they want, as long as they don´t die of boredom in their restricted environment.
A judgemental attitude is key to the social behaviour. Everyone has formed their opinion about you before you could even start to talk, before you entered the room… and everyone is talking. Talking about where you came from, what you´re doing on their small, precious island, about who you´re with and who you´re talking to. Don´t get me wrong, I found it quite amusing that a few people started talking behind my back. In a big city like Cologne, I used to fit in. Then I was standing out. I was important enough to be talked about by some people. That´s a thing.
If you want to be a part of this world, there is no ticket to buy you into it. It´s a birth right. A birth right that I didn´t have.
I am more than able to stand up for my own agenda, but for now all I can say is that I aspire to be as neutral as Switzerland.
However, I would always try not to judge anyone. I would respect other countries, cultures, families and social structures. I´m just trying to tell a little story about a girl who entered this new world and who tried to be a part of it for some time. I try to picture a fun, wild and breathtakingly beautiful world with a few crazy and a lot of nice people in it. The Channel Islands, definitely worth a visit, but worth living there for ever?
But still, how can we define home if we haven´t travelled the world?
Conclusive, I would like to add one of my favourite quotes by Mark Twain: “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one´s lifetime.”