早就聽說過居住在世界各地的華僑多达幾千萬，占全中國總人口的百分之二左右。这倒不是一个小数目，比许多小国家的人口还要多。百多年來, 早在新中国建国前, 就有无数人渡洋过海出國稚?Ｐ轮泄?闪⒑螅?貏e是改革開放以来的二十年, 出国的人数更是与日俱增，光是留学生就有几十万人，而且不少人毕业后便留下来求职就业，在当地安家定居。近年来，出来做各种各样事情的人也不少，有到国外投亲团聚的、有投资做生意搞买卖的，也有不少是非法偷渡的。真可以说是什么背景、什么来头的人都有。于是，除了老华侨外，出国并留在外边的人就越来越多，海外的唐人街就越来越变得热闹。
在国内生活了整整六十年，这一次投身异国他乡，开始时在生活上的许多方面真不太习惯。首先由于不懂英语，出门遇到的不便真是数不胜数：乘公共汽车时不认得终点站，坐地铁不会换车，寄挂号信说不出名堂，房东的信件不会看… … 简直跟聋哑人没有什么两样。后来，得知所住区内有华人社区办事处，每当有事时我便上去找工作人员帮忙，这样才免受许多麻烦。此外，我还加入社区办事处开办的英语班， 学习基本英语课程。我们班上的人大都是年纪较大的，不少人还向我一个样，都是初学者，这样一来大家便不分彼此。就这样，经过这几年来一点一滴的积累、研磨，我总算是学会一些简单的日常生活的用语。现在靠着字典的帮忙，我也能看得懂一些简短的信件了。更重要的是，几年的相处，我还在英语班上认识了不少新的面孔，结交了一些新的朋友，使我的社会接触面更广、更有意义。
In Retirement in the UK
It was long ago that I got to know that tens of millions of Chinese people are living outside China. They are equivalent to some 2% of the population in China. This is really not too small a figure; it is actually larger than the population of many small countries in the world. Over the past centuries, Chinese people left their homelands for places abroad for all sorts of reasons. After the founding of the People’s Republic, in particular since the opening up of the country in the late 1970s, people have continued to arrive in the West. Many have come as students and chosen to stay after their studies. Others arrived as visitors and business-men/women. Of course there have also been illegal immigrants. Whatever the reason, the number is increasing; and Chinatowns in major Western cities have become ever more vibrant business quarters.
Of the Chinese living in the UK, my wife and I can be categorized as new arrivals. In 1995, I completed the final paperwork for retirement, saying goodbye to over 30 years of factory life. The following year we I applied for entry visas to come to the UK for visiting. My daughter and her family had settled here earlier so we when came we took the opportunity to baby-sit our grandchildren, too. In 1998, having come back to England a second time, my son-in-law suggested that we should apply for UK residence. With the help of a Chinese advice centre we soon got our permit to stay. Later another community centre helped us to successfully apply for council housing in south London. From then on we officially began to settle in the UK, leading a life in retirement outside China.
I had spent my first 60 years in China, now that I had to face a new environment for the first time, I felt somehow lonely. Since I hardly spoke any English when I first came, moving about in London was really difficult for me. There had been quite a lot of headaches. For example using the public transport system, dealing with official documents and so on were not entirely problem-free. Even getting a stamp in the Post Office could be something. In a sense we were disabled. Fortunately we found a local Chinese community centre and began to seek help there. This helped ease a lot of problems. Then I enrolled in a beginner’s English class organized by the community centre. Most of my fellow-learners in the class were older people so that I did not feel entirely out of the place. After a few terms I have learned a few basic but very useful sentences. More importantly, though, I have made a few friends too. The English class gave ground to expand my social circles, as I had been quite lonely previously.
Britain is a country with a high living standard. In general things are more expensive than those in China. A dish of Yangchow fried rice, for example, costs as much as five pounds, which in China may be only one third of what is charged here. High costs are of course a cause for concern for people with low income. But on the other hand, Britain does provide welfare benefits to the needy, eg., older people, the disabled, women with small children, refugees and asylum-seekers are given help in one way or another. A woman giving birth in hospital, for instance, need not pay for the expenses incurred; and the new born-baby will receive free milk tokens as well. Others who face financial hardships, such as people with special needs, can claim extra allowance. People are also entitled to such services as free transportation, free medical and dental checkups, free prescription and so on. Some museums offer senior citizens and disabled people free admission or concessions too. So on the whole, Britain is really a country that treats the needy quite well.
Speaking of the weather, summer in Britain is not too hot. London for example is quite a cool place compared with my hometown, Guangzhou. Although London is colder than Guangzhou in winter, most homes here have central heating. So even if it’s cold outside, it’s always warm inside the house. What is even warmer here, I think, is the generosity and kindness given to us by our hosts. Since coming here I have seen mostly smiling faces. My neighbours are friendly and generally helpful. Everyone here, regardless of their ethnic background, makes us feel at home.
Having lived here for a number of years, last December we went back China for visiting. We stayed there for nearly three months, before coming back to London in February. During that time we visited Guangzhou, Shanghai, Ningbo and some other cities, where we met with our former colleagues, friends and so on, most of whom had retired from their posts. Since it was our first re-union after years of separation, we felt that there were lots of things that we wanted to talk about. Indeed, for old people, wherever you live, as long as you feel content, you are always happy.
Yang Guang Translated by Cao Yuan