I feel a bit like Captain Haddock on a rough sea. That Scottish alcoholic sea dog and his best friend Tintin, yelling away fruitlessly at stupendous things that happen around him. A rich irony here that Herge, the author, was Belgian – a true European Union even then.
June has seeped into July and if I was overhelmed by the turbulence of change in my own life, it was put to complete shade by the tsunami of recent weeks. And I don’t just mean the pain of watching Roger Federer lose in the semi-finals this Wimbledon.
In the meantime, the United Kingdom has exited from the European Union. Britain is on the brink of being great again, we are supposed to believe. And above all the British Isles can rejoice in being a true independent (isolated?) island nation. This apparently juicy prospect is bound to please all those who voted to Leave while we now spend the rest of our lives honing the definition of what it means to be a ‘headless chicken’. That’s you, me, the politicians, the bankers, the soothsayers, the lawmakers and the ranting rightwingers who beat their chests and their drums in the name of spurious national pride. Remember the Hindu revival and Modi – where has all that pride led to? Pretty much nowhere decent. And this might just keep on going – Trump could become president of the United States, the crazy fascists in France, Netherlands and Austria who celebrated Brexit could all gain momentum and the tolerant world we desperately need can remain an impossible dream.
The point is that as I’ve observed in these twenty odd years of living here, the British were never exactly attached to the Continent. People went on ‘holiday to Europe’. The pound was intact, the language was intact, no Britisher referred to themselves as European. When my American friends said to me, “you guys in Europe,” it would catch me by surprise. More than that, when they fancied it, the British can also be English, Scots, Northern Irish and Welsh. We (they) can have it all ways already. So, when the idea of Britishness couldn’t be any stronger, there were people for whom this wasn’t enough. And here we stand, knee deep in the sludge of all the muddy lies that were slung during the Referendum campaign, with still no real idea as to what lies ahead.
If ever there could be a silver lining – it was Andy Murray winning Wimbledon. A consolation in all manner of speaking. And Serena Williams winning a record seventh title is an amazing achievement.
Coming soon, regular blog updates that are more writing related.