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Inside the Foreign Office (picture by Nick Garrod, used under Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Britain wasn’t always so anti-EU — or at least, not long ago we were able to put our animus to one side from time to time and celebrate the people with whom we share a continent.

On May 1, 2004, ten ‘accession countries’ joined the European Union, taking the number of its members from 15 to 25. It was, as they say, a big deal.

To mark the occasion, the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office held an open day it called “Meet the Neighbours”. On April 24, 2004, it invited people to come and look around its opulent offices (see picture above) and to meet representatives of each of the 10 accession countries. They also laid on food and drink from each of the countries, and there was music too.

I’d forgotten about this until I looked it up for this post, but apparently the whole thing was also a celebration of the Eurovision song contest, or at least the entries from the accession nations, plus the British entry by James Fox (no, me neither).

Anyway, recently I was clearing out some old junk when I found the bag I’d been given at the Meet the Neighbours event, so here’s a look inside:

The bag has the names of the ten countries: Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia.

There are balloons and a set of badges. Disappointingly I seem to have collected only eight of them.

Most intriguingly there are two copies of a book, called My Fundamental Rights. I think it’s a (very small) copy of the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights.

I used to be a journalist. Now I’m a product manager.

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