For example, (and I offer this merely as a tiny, representative instance) I now have to pay a Frenchman to talk to a Welshman.
On September 8, 1966, the first (and very beautiful) Severn Bridge opened. It was constructed with the inventive help of the Royal Engineers (my father included), who floated prefabricated sections of the roadway on pontoons down the river, to be hoisted into position by cranes atop the towers that would hold the suspension cables.
I stood on the Welsh side with my mother and brother, listening to the Queen's speech from across the water, and watched as the Royal car came through. (Only a West Indian family near us had had the forethought to buy some flags on sticks to wave as Her Majesty passed.) The toll for cars was the then-equivalent of 35 US cents.
30 years later, a second bridge was completed, crossing further down the estuary to Cardiff and West Wales. A new holding company was formed (Severn River Cossings plc), as a partnership between John Laing plc, a French firm, GTM-Entrepose, and others.
John Laing plc is based in London and controls assets worth £698 million (December 2008 accounts); but the revenue from both bridges went to GTM-Entrepose which was subsequently taken over by Vinci Concessions SA, a subsidiary of Vinci SA, which controls assets worth almost 52 billion Euros and is based in Rueil-Malmaison, France.
The toll for cars is now £5.40 (you pay to get into Wales; any fool who wishes to leave can do so for free), and as late as last month there were protests that this highwaymanning is hampering trade and transport. But what, exactly, can the private citizen, the commercial haulier, or even the professional politican do? Doubtless any attempt by HMG to intervene would be challenged in a European court.
I think our national politicans are little better than a species of fraudster, pretending that they can do something for us but (I suspect) privately agreeing among themselves that they are powerless. In which case, all they can do is take instructions from their wealthy patrons and (perhaps partly out of impotent spite) divide and bully the insignificant people, some of whom (at permitted intervals, to be determined by their masters) vote them into office.
And now, I want to wave my little flag.