I think it’s fair to say that nine months into the ‘Brexit Era’ what’s really suffering here is the over-worked metaphor industry. The sheer lunacy of the situation is getting so difficult to grasp, so amorphous that it’s virtually impossible to pin down. And I mean that about both sides of the argument. If there even are two ‘official’ sides of the argument anymore. I’m not sure. Because while the government was holding its breath and crossing its fingers the Brexit White Paper was voted through Parliament. The future security of EU nationals living in the UK will not be safeguarded; they, their families, jobs and homes will now be used by the British government in Brexit negotiations as fodder. Shameful, but there it is. That is Great Britain as it stands. But to see the sight of the Official Leader of the Opposition join a demo outside Parliament while the vote was taking place beggared belief. You’re supposed to be indoors arguing the case mate, and you should have thought about that a couple of weeks ago when you Three Line Whipped your party into voting for this Brexit White Paper. Poor Jeremy Corbyn, always much happier in the chorus than as the male lead.
There’s a modern phrase, ‘Jumping the Shark’, which is a television trope for describing when something has finally run out of ideas; when a TV series has run its course and needs to be shelved. Specifically it comes from when Fonzie in Season 5, episode 3 of Happy Days waterskied over a shark. I know. I never liked Happy Days anyway but how that was less believable than a nearly forty-year old Henry Winkler playing a ‘cool’ 19 year old Fonzie is beyond me. But, to get on with the metaphor, the government have gone way beyond Season 5 and their shark-jumping shows no sign of drying up.
David Davis, The Brexit Secretary, admitted to a Parliamentary committee this week, that no-one had yet looked into the economic impact of reaching ‘no-deal’ with the EU. That’s the Brexit Secretary, not looking at what might happen with regards to Brexit. Look, we’ve all had jobs where we skive a bit, goof off, find a quiet part of the building and have a nap. We’ve all done that. We’ve all found ourselves ill-prepared for a presentation, or a meeting, spent too long with a colleague over a Friday liquid lunch, we’ve all done that. Few of us though have spent our entire political life seeking exit from the world’s major trading and political body, be given the job of steering that exit, be evangelical of its benefits and done absolutely nothing about gauging its impact. People have been mocking David Davis all week, but I personally think the man deserves praise. This is Herculean indolence. I doubt, since last June, that there’s a house, pub, corner shop or café that has not borne witness to rancour and dissention as heated conversations have taken place as to what ‘Brexit’ will actually mean. It’s the only topic in town. Everybody’s talking about it. Not at the Brexit Department though, oh no. There, they’re flipping playing cards into top hats, playing I-Spy and redesigning the soon to be diminished Union Flag along the lines of the letter ‘W’, standing only for ‘Yeah, whatevs…’
It’s difficult to come up with an adequate metaphor for that sort of ignorant inertia. There’s the traditional ‘Ostrich head in the sand’ fallback, but that seems oddly inadequate when confronted by Davis’ Olympian efforts. He seems stunningly to be avoiding the issues and yet, tragically, finds himself in charge of that issue. I’ve always had a recurring nightmare where I fall over in the Harrod’s Crystal glass department (if I should ever be there), and rather than pay the bill or accept responsibility I’ll fake a heart attack and be whisked away by an ambulance. I expect a similar press release from the Brexit department shortly, along the lines of ‘David Davis has been in a coma since last summer. We’re feeding him economic impact reports through a tube.’
Remainers like to throw in the Lemming metaphor, which I’m afraid while sounding good, think Turkeys/Christmas, is wholly inaccurate. Lemmings don’t commit mass suicide as was suspected, that was thought up by a wildlife producer for a Disney documentary called White Wilderness in 1958. This producer, quite taken with the lemming ‘cliff-hurling’ legend was disappointed to find that wasn’t actually the case. So he packed a load in a truck, drove them to the edge of a cliff and shovelled them off instead. Actually that fits the metaphor bill quite nicely.
Then it hit me. Pheasants. What is it with pheasants? Why are they so stupid? I think it’s where the term ‘peabrain’ comes from and not without reason. Now look, the pheasant has a pretty stressful existence I’ll grant you that. From August until March it’s literally fair game as the hunters eye br’er pheasant up and blast away recklessly. Your male pheasant is just too damn proud though. Look at me, he’ll say, look at my colours and my plumage… I. AM. GORGEOUS.
But the thing with the pheasant is that rather than enjoy the quiet post-hunting season they’ll actively go looking for trouble. Have you encountered a pheasant in the road? They just won’t budge. They run along in front of the car. They veer left or right a bit, but mainly carry on in a straight line. At no point does it occur to them to stop, take stock and get off the bloody road! They’re so pleased with themselves. These were the ones who won the battle with the hunters, so that they now recklessly court disaster and inevitable road-flattening out of a combination of monumental stupidity and hubris. I was behind one for ten minutes the other day and you do try and remain patient, but the thing had clearly taken leave of its senses. In the end it ran off but clucking away at me, clearly thinking I was at fault.
I know. As metaphors go it’s not bad, a bit tortured perhaps but I’ve reached the point where trying to make sense of the whole mess and the intransigent belligerence of so many people who should know better, that it’s driving me loopy. What I clearly need is a rest somewhere, somewhere quiet and dreamlike, a Xanadu, a haven far away from Brexit itself. I wonder if there’s a job going in David Davis’s department?
Thank you for reading this blog, so far it’s over 200,000 views. Feedback is always welcome, from all sides, but keep the abuse to a minimum because, as you’ve read, I’ve got a bad back am whacked out on painkillers and liable to kick off.
This will form part of my new book about Brexit, my quest for French nationality and the perennial issue of arsy goats and cats. If you are a publisher/Literary agent interested in talking about the book version, please get in touch. It will be ready and finished by the end of March and could be out in time for the Brexit anniversary.
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