The intention was to give a full background for saying anything about Europe, but it would be long so it is brief. By chance I was in Paris in 1951 as a young teenage tourist when the Schumann Plan discussions (photo above) were taking place that led to the signing of the Treaty of Paris; but my interests were in other things.
Since then there has been military experience, national service after basic training in and around Germany and many other visits for various purposes, rugby tours, EEC meetings and conferences, travelling on the ground rather than the air in many parts, camping and seeing provinces and cities as well as the seaside. The upshot was being in many places and many countries. You name it, I've tried the local beers and wines.
Three of my uncles were there, Dunkirk, Normandy and Italy, Austria and Germany. So was grandfather 1915-1918 and then Germany into 1919. A couple of my elderly grandaunts born in the 1870's, lovely devout ladies of religion and fluent in French and other languages decided in 1940 to provide facilities and shelter for French seamen and others stranded by the outbreak of war. They were thanked by General de Gaulle.
In theory I ought to be a Europe fan or even fanatic and once could claim to be as virtuous an internationalist and sympathiser with the concept of European union as any. But as well as living the history, I also studied modern history along with other things. History does not tell us what to do, what it can tell us is what, how and why it all can go wrong and what the consequences might be.
On 23 June we are voting for the future and not the past and what our place in the future may be. Our start point is the now and while the politicians and others rattle on about their great ideas and principles and what has been they are reluctant to admit to us what the now is and it is not good.
The EU of the now is bust and a major part of that is the currency it created, the Euro, is bust as the inevitable result of botching the design and management of this new financial instrument. They believed that political decisions taken at the top would prevail whatever the markets or other economic movements in play were doing. The EU would direct and the money would follow.
It would not, it did not and it will not, especially in a globalised world. The EU, which began in 1951 in the belief that Europe might once again control the world economy, is now a backwater and for some of its activity only a subsidiary body for international agencies. From being the coloniser it is now one of the colonised.
Instead of the European democracy that I hoped might develop, a unifying elected centre working with other governments in law making and policy we have a closed bureaucracy of the worst kind that apes that of some of the most ruinous and incompetent of history. Like them it tries to deal with this by uncontrolled expansion along with centralisation.
One question is when did it begin to go wrong? This is arguable, perhaps in the late 1980's as memories of the past faded and were overtaken by other interpretations. Then there was the reunification of Germany along with mechanisms such as the Exchange Rate.
Also, there was a new breed of Eurocrats and a new network based on Brussels rather than the capitals of Europe. Later, in Britain we had Major and then Blair with their cronies, and in other states a number of other self interested second or third raters as leaders more concerned with their own affairs rather than national one.
What none of these understood was the pace, nature and implications of the changes taking place around the world in many ways and the rapidity of that change. This is why the EU is a sclerotic, malign, incompetent organisation that is trying to preserve a past system. It assumes it can control, but it cannot. It can only meddle, muddle and mess.
The sooner we are out the better and making our own history rather than being the prisoners of a defunct empire whose future will be one of failure and despair.