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Is this the end of a beautiful friendship?

A divorce is a difficult thing. The end of an era and the start of something new. I would have wished for something else.

I still remember the first day we met. As a young and very nervous 19 year old I was abroad for the first time. Yes, in those days, and where I came from, that was not all that uncommon. In fact, it was the first time I sat foot on an airplane on my own. Some would say that I have spent the rest of my life catching up on that. I cannot say that it was love at first sight. On the contrary, I felt you were rather odd. You had habits that I certainly was not used to. Crossing the street in your country could be lethal, mainly because cars came running from the wrong direction and looking left was not something that I was familiar with. The breakfast you served was either ”continental” meaning I was hungry again after 30 minutes. That was about as long as a slice of white toast with jam lasted. Or it was big enough to go for a normal lunch. And it was cooked. The weirdest thing however was the fact that in your country most bathrooms had carpets, something I still do not understand.

From that first meeting our friendship slowly grew and, I would say, developed into love. Thanks to work later in life I had the opportunity to visit many times and you took me to some of the finest places on earth. Yes, another love of my life is golf and it was magical to get to experience some of those pieces of land, called the links, next to the ocean where golf has been played for generations.

After a while you and I got to know eachother really well. In 2005 the relationship that I was then in had gone a bit stale. I was looking for options where I could get out, to continue to grow and develop. You provided me an opportunity for which I will be forever grateful. In August we, me and my family, packed our home in boxes to throw ourselves fully into your arms. We went to live in a rural and friendly area where one of the best golf courses that I have ever seen is located. The start of our new, deeper relationship, was a bit rocky. Many things were new to us and without the friendliness of the people that I worked with, and the people that we met, our relationship would have ended quicker than it did.

As most relationships ours grew stronger with time. You only had to look at me at your front door (there was a system at immigrations called Iris which meant that a machine could recognise my irisis to let me through) to know that I was welcome. I learnt to appreciate your habits and in fact, picking up the Evening Standard on my way through the London Underground on a Friday night became one of my favourite pastimes. For five years we had a rather complicated distance relationship as I divided my time between Stockholm and your place. Love, however, is strong and can endure also pressured times.

Today is January the 31st and the divorce that you started talking about long ago is to come into effect. What I did not realise back in 2005 was that the rural part of the country that my family came to was to be one of the most pro-Brexit areas in the whole of Britain. The people that I met and became friends with are now divided into two. The Brexiteers and the Remainers. The latter have turned into Rejoiners. It truly is a sad day and I cannot tell you how sorry I am that my children will not have the chances that I once had. You say that we will always have a special relationship. Perhaps. But today something fundamental in that relationship is changing. And I am so sorry to see you go.

Goodbye Britain.

Av Peter Mattsson

Ansvarig och chef för idrottsutveckling på Riksidrottsförbundet med uppdrag att stötta all idrottslig utveckling, Från gräsrot till världsklass i idrottsrörelsens 71 specialidrottsförbund.

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