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A heated debate

Many, many years ago my best friend and I sat on a submarine in Barrow-in-Furness festooned in CND badges singing "zigazaga, zigazaga, ban the bomb".

By sheer happenstance we'd teamed up with a lovely group of people who gave us food, so gratefully sat with them under their banner, which read Liverpool Anarchists.

Unfortunately this sit-in attracted the TV cameras and the evening news, and thus it was that simultaneously both nuns and my mother knew I was neither at school nor at home on an exeat.

Naturally the lens had zoomed in on the two baby-faced anarchists wearing Mary Quant's Way Out Pink lipstick and, duh, stupidly, our school blazers.

They particularly focused on the ­hand-embroidered motto: Facta, non verba - actions, not words.

Fair play. In my TV days I'd have done exactly the same.

Fortunately we were long on our way hitch-hiking back the many miles to the convent before all hell broke loose.

Ah, those happy days of non-instant communication.

Interestingly, after all the horror of possible expulsion, my mother was more concerned that I hadn't actually "joined" the CND or signed anything stating that I was an anarchist.

"You want to be a reporter," she said. "You mustn't be part of anything. One day it will go against you. You must always stand outside."

I was quite indignant. I was an existentialist newly formed anarchist for God's sake. (Obviously a Catholic as well, but a Buddhist manque with a healthy soupçon of Celtic paganism. Oh, and a Beatlemaniac.)

"We don't 'join' things," I told her with sneering contempt for her woeful ignorance. "We just collect the badges. And pictures. Of The Beatles."

And lo, it came to pass that in my twilight years I have ended up in expat land where joining is a good thing and existentialist anarchists are sidelined and, frankly, misunderstood.

In truth I stopped being both quite a long, long time ago when the shocking reality that life wasn't monochromatic kicked in with, actually, just living it.

However, interestingly and deliberately, I never did join anything in my life - well, barring a couple of chi-chi clubs and AmEx.

I never discussed my politics and so could aggressively interview all sides. I always played the Devil's advocate.

But I suppose we all revert to type in the end, which is why, when invited out as, I'm now convinced, the wild card who could go either way, I play to form.

I know the "bomb" words to get them all going if conversation starts to lag: UK immigrants, house prices, Ukip, Islam, Clegg, Alex Salmond, Tony Blair, Hollande, UK pensions, tramp-stamps, the Daily Mail, the NHS, the euro versus the pound, bureaucrats, cowboy builders, French taxes, bloody Europe etc etc.

It's become quite tedious really.

However, the latest bomb is the winter fuel allowance.

People actually shriek around tables: "I've paid my taxes. I should get it wherever I am."

These are the same people who have a problem with other countries and people saying similar in the UK under European rights of movement.

Using admittedly suspect temperature scales, France is to be excluded from the winter fuel payment allowance and therefore so are all the OAPs here.

There are petitions online. Forums encourage their members to sign. Quite vitriolic responses spew out hatred to the mother country that has cut them off from their "rights".

There are those who respond "bugger you, you left the UK for a better life".

As far as I can see, they're all wrong.

Personally, no matter how bloody cold it gets here, I really can't see how one can claim a winter fuel payment. We spend months in good weather and a brief time cold, unlike the UK.

And no, I simply do not believe all those good people I've met here who claim they are taking it and intend to pass it on to charity. Really?

And to those who feel quite vicious towards those who have, in their eyes, pissed off abroad … just take an intake of breath and wonder why you feel so angry.

Most of them are rather decent people who chose to exercise their right as Europeans to live in a country they have come to love.

They often, these days, struggle to survive, but you're right, they originally came here because it was cheaper and warmer. Tant pis.

You know, it doesn't matter where you live. It only matters that you enjoy doing so. And as a newly reformed, existentialist anarchist perhaps it is a good thing to fling bombs wherever you are.

If only to rouse ourselves from expat ennui. To question our lives here and ask ourselves why?

Or perhaps everybody is having a great time. Is it me?

Being an existentialist anarchist, there's only one bloody answer. Yes.

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