Monday, November 29th, 2021

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And people will be preparing to gorge themselves on that egregious crime against cooking, sweet potato casserole and marshmallow. I mean sweet potato casserole – yum. Marshmallow – why not. But blended together in one dish? Ewww.

That said, Thanksgiving is the loveliest of occasions. It is the midpoint between the ghastly excess of Halloween and the naked commercialism of some aspects of Christmas. And it is not about feverishly unwrapping presents. It is about families and friends coming together and giving thanks.

My most vivid – and painful – Thanksgiving was in 2017.

We were across the road at our friend Jeff’s in Georgetown. A few months earlier his wife, who was 39, had died of a very aggressive cancer. But round the table we went, taking it in turns to say what we gave thanks for – including his kids – Eleanor who was then 10, and Charlie who was eight. They spoke of the support of friends and family and how this had been of comfort to them in this unspeakably horrid year.

Thanksgiving meal
IMAGE SOURCE,GETTY IMAGES
Strangely perhaps, it was an occasion that underlined to me what is great about America – the positivity, the optimism, the hope – and yes, resilience too.

This will be my eighth and final Thanksgiving before I move back to the UK, and the thing that has struck me about living here is the courtesy, respect and old-fashioned politeness.

When I tell Americans there are those in Britain who could learn from this, they seem startled. Surely, they ask, Britain – with its royal family – is the epitome of etiquette and courtliness. I ask if they’ve ever tried to get on the Victoria Line at Oxford Circus in the rush hour.

But there will be a lot of families who won’t be gathering this year.

A friend from Ohio – the kindest, most gentle soul – says his family won’t be getting together because of toxic divisions that have come to the fore in the past few years. He works in the media and is sick of having his family telling him he works for fake news. It has been a growing and depressing phenomenon in America, where the list of no-go topics for the dinner table is now so extensive, better to call the whole thing off.

There have always been divisions in the US, some of them going back to America’s original sin, slavery. And recent court cases have underlined the profound feeling of grievance that the legal system doesn’t work equally for black and white defendants.

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Earlier, Ms Patel told the Commons there was “no quick fix” to tackle the issue but said she had spoken to her French counterpart to offer to put more officers on the ground and had continued to push for joint patrols of the Channel.

She said it was important to address “long-term pull factors” and stop criminal gangs who treat people as “cargo”.

But Calais MP Pierre-Henri Dumont dismissed the idea of joint patrols as “crazy” and said it would not change anything along the vast shoreline.

France’s interior minister Gerald Darmanin said regional prosecutors had launched an investigation into aggravated manslaughter.

He said two survivors were in a critical condition in a French hospital, where they are being treated for severe hypothermia. One is Iraqi and the other Somali, he told RTL radio.

On Thursday more people made the journey despite Wednesday’s deaths.

Channel crossings explained
What’s being done to stop the crossings?
Channel deaths: What do we know so far?
French President Emmanuel Macron has called an emergency meeting of European ministers to discuss how to stop the crossings.

He said France was going to ask for “extra help” from the British , adding that despite authorities telling migrants they were able to stay in France, they wanted to reach the UK.

The UK signed an agreement in July to pay France €62.7m (£54m) during 2021-22 to help secure the borders, but the number of people making the crossing has continued to rise.

Since the start of the year, 1,552 smugglers have been arrested in northern France and 44 smuggler networks dismantled, Mr Macron said.

Despite this, he said 47,000 attempted Channel crossings to the UK took place this year and 7,800 people were rescued.

 

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