All I did today was breathe and remember to breathe again after. I did that and it worked. I got through the day and now it’s night and I don’t feel too bad.
The head is still muzzy and there’s some new blockage behind my nose, but I think I’ll pull through. If could think straight I would write straight. But maybe this is the chance to catch up on a couple of ideas that I never got down over the past few days. One of the points of this blog was that I’d tell my truth as it sauntered along, but also that I would capture the world a little bit as it is as I write.
Brxt. I hate the real world so I say it vowellessly through gritted teeth and everyone knows what I mean. In decades it will be talked about the way that we still talk about the wars and the Titanic. We will explain it when we’re old with wonder that the youngsters can’t grasp what it was like, just as I switch off when the old folks talk about Kennedy or the ‘66 world cup.
I voted for it. I did. And I’m glad that it’s happened, even though the process was the biggest fuckaroo that I have ever know and made my country a bit of a laughing stock. But I’ll explain if you’ll let me because I’m not one of those obtuse and ill-informed voices that bleat about too many Bulgarians or the influx of immigrants. I’d like to control the borders a bit more, sure, but human migration and the changing demography of the planet is a part of the natural process of the world. We won’t change it. Spain is full of Brits and ask India what it was like there during the Raj. I respect people who want to work for their pay. Who want to earn respect and build a life. I don’t care where they’re from or what colour their skin is. I tell my girls that they should judge people on their actions and not the things that they have no control over.
At the same time, though, I am tired of the floppy liberal/left approach to the latest global events and the seeping assumption that a popular social-media voice is the voice of the people. I’m no great fan of Trump, but I hate the assumption that the right thing to do is to hate him. I abhor the assumption that everyone who voted for Brxt is a racist homophobe. I hate that assumption and I hate that assumptions like this are even allowed the time of day. I guess people need the comfort of following something.
In my profession it’s not easy to step outside of the majority socialist voice. The newspapers they spread around the staffroom; the vitriol that is preached to the kids in assembly. I’m not always in disagreement with the principle of a lot of it but it’s the assumption of my support and comradeship that I can’t stand. But hear their sharp intakes of breath when I mention it…
I speak a couple of languages. I have straight forward under-educated untravelled white parents, now divorced. I was taken on holiday to Spain twice and France twice as a child. My granddads fought in the war and worked in factories. At least one of them was a staunch labour supporter and my parents never had anything useful to say about politics.
I paid my way through college and am still, fifteen years later, paying for my university education. Some of it I spent in France to add to the two years that I lived in that beautiful country and served in a city-centre bar. I was a citizen there; I paid my taxes there; I ate the food, drank the wine and loved the women. I know La Marseillaise off by heart and I sing it whenever I hear it.
La France est en moi. La France sera toujours en moi.
I am married to an Italian woman. I each in an international school; this summer I taught in Africa and I am smitten by the foreign literature of Russia and India. I love these places because of their difference; because of the uniqueness of the culture as it has evolved in ways different to mine; the ways that the people think, pour their beer, make love. It is the differences that unite us because we must make efforts to understand rather than replicate and compete.
For me the European project was the assimilation of nations that are each and all so rich in their own ancient cultures; the brutal dilution of traditions that have taken aeons to evolve. For me the European project is like collecting together the most beautiful clocks. Grandfather clocks and Napoleon clocks and carriage clocks and cuckoo clocks – all the sorts of beautifully crafted clocks that you can imagine, all hand-made and hand wound and ticking their own near-perfect time and then deciding, declaring, that these clocks are all too different from one another. Declaring that the old machinery must be pulled out and electric clocks installed and synchronised instead.
It would keep a better universal time and the maintenance would be easier. People would be kept to the same perfect rhythm and I see why that might appeal to some people. But it’s not for me. I embrace difference and I think that maybe it borders of racist to suggest that nations must ditch their currency; must adopt rules that contravene their own standards and must bow to a new flag.