Coming Around Again
Being a paperboy taught me a lot. For instance, tips aren’t dependant on class or house size, £4.70 a week is not a living wage, nicking pints of milk off someone’s doorstep is a sackable offence and some dogs like to mess with your mind. There was one in particular who snarled and attacked when I first started, so I was nervous about going to the letter box. Then he stopped suddenly and started wagging his tail and rolling over to be tickled whenever I arrived. This change in attitude lasted three weeks. At the end of the third week, he came running up to me, wagging his tail and bit my hand.
Ryanair are that dog in budget airline form. For the last few years they’ve made a corporate effort not to ‘unnecessarily piss people off’ as their CEO Michael O’Leary put it. And it worked too. Hand luggage restrictions were eased, the Customer Service department stopped hiding, their aircrew stopped beating people with truncheons when boarding, it all became less arduous, less like they were doing me a favour. Then bang. Like someone trying to go straight but tempted by ‘one last job’, they line up 250,000 passengers and shove them out of the door without a parachute. I have four Ryanair flights on Monday and Tuesday and they’ve cancelled one of them. I asked why, of course I did, but apparently that was classified information, none of my business, but news reports suggest that Ryanair have cancelled flights this week so they can meet their punctuality targets.
Nope. Me neither.
I will travel Ryanair again, they are the only operator from my local airport in Tours, and that’s why they did it. A captive audience can be mistreated, taken for granted. But punctuality? How is cancelling flights sticking to a schedule? This corporate bollocks, spouted by PR robots, designed to just make everyone go ‘oh, right, fair enough’ is the problem. Cynical, dismissive blather that self-serving scoundrels know, if they repeat it often enough, will cover the real issues. They’re all at it. Andrea Leadsom, for instance, tweeting about the UK being able to ‘make its own laws’ and ‘control its borders’. The UK already does both, but repeat the lie often enough and it works. James Dyson is at it too, paddling out his usual, ‘Brexit is an opportunity’ line, proving that once again brilliant people can be utter cretins. Of course it’s an opportunity, presumably like James it’s an opportunity to invest our offshore tax haven billions and move our factories to countries where the minimum wage is less than a packet of biscuits. Who does he think will buy his products if people aren’t even on a living wage?
Like I say, everyone’s at it and particularly where Brexit is concerned. They’re still spouting prickly, jingoistic campaign slogans for something they’ve already won. And why? Because the reality, the nitty-gritty of the world they’ve now created is too difficult to deal with, and what they promised can’t actually be delivered. Boris Johnson has even started hugging campaign busses again, writing in the Daily Telegraph that we should not pay any money to the EU in a transitional period, but pile it into the NHS instead. Hang on, didn’t everyone acknowledge that that was just campaigning high spirits? Didn’t independent fiscal bodies already say that was utter nonsense?
Should the promised energy crisis arrive in the next few years, I firmly believe that if the National Grid were to plug itself into Boris Johnson’s naked ambition, no lights would go out. Maybe it should be written into a post-EU British constitution that anyone seeking a public vote should spout the ‘£350 million a week for the NHS’ line. It could be a tie-breaker on Strictly Come Dancing or The Voice or Britain’s Got Privileged Lying Bastards. At some point, one hopes, someone of genuine influence will stand up in the House of Commons and just go, ‘look, this is insane.’ It’s a forlorn hope. The government’s Great Repeal Bill was voted through and the Tory ‘rebels’, as oxymoronic as ‘classy denim suit’, voted for it. And then, having voted for it, pompously told the government that they would now scrutinise it and that they wouldn’t stand for some of what it contained. Might I suggest not voting for it then? I mean, I’m no politician, but isn’t that the kind of blustering, Colonel Blimp claptrap that used to be called appeasement? Tory ‘rebels’ my eye, they’re just cowards waving stampeding horses through before slamming the stable door shut.
And I know all about stable doors, thank you very much. In my determined ambition to become a hermit and hide from the madness, building work has finally begun at home, and the new stable arrived. It took five of us, four different nationalities – it’s called co-operation – to offload it from the behemoth truck before just one person, full of vim and self-delusion thought he could erect it on his own. I know it’s a heavy metaphor, but here goes. I thought I could build a strong stable on my own, but I couldn’t. I was doing ok. I had two walls up, but then a gust of wind blew it over and nearly crushed me in the process. Even the next day when I surveyed the wreckage I thought I could give it another try, I really did. In my head I was giving it the full Leadsom. All the evidence told me I was crackers, but I still thought I could get away with it. Had I been crushed underneath I’d have probably carried on, ‘I have control of this stable. I now have the power to forge ahead. I control my own destiny.’ I would then have expired, a martyr to repetitive lunacy.
The world has become like a badly funded satellite channel, just repeating stuff that wasn’t much good in the first place, and enticing only to the most doltish. Everything is on repeat. A letter arrived on Saturday (yesterday) from the Platforme de la Naturalisation de Région Centre – Val de Loire. Any official post like that always makes me jittery anyway, but I was lulled by this one. This would be my récépissé surely? An official document to show that my citizenship dossier was complete; that I had passed the interview and was now awaiting ministerial approval…
It was not.
It was a letter informing me that I had to attend my citizenship interview on October 12 at 9am, and that I should bring my passport. I was at a pretty low ebb as it was, but this was the clincher, this was the final straw that would have me diving under any passing collapsing stable. I’ve had the bloody interview! I passed! What is this? Was my interview so good, someone else wants a piece? What is it, best of three? What’s the French text equivalent to WTAF?! There’s no number or email to query the command, no chance to question the appointment and I’m not even in the sodding country on that date. I slumped on a chair, broken. I may have Johnson-esque stable building delusions, but this floored me. It was like some horrible, bureaucratic Groundhog Day.
‘Why don’t you ring the person who interviewed you before?’ Natalie suggested, common sense prevailing over my ‘let’s just get drunk instead’ defeatism. ‘Ring her first thing on Monday morning.’
It’s a plan certainly, but maybe that was just a ‘mock’ interview. Maybe she was a con-merchant. Some mental case who gets off on playing bureaucrats.
‘I’m not here on Monday morning.’ I sulked. ‘I have to go to Dublin.’
‘Then I’ll ring her on Monday.’
I love my wife, and it’s that kind of support, that kind of ‘I’ll pull you out from under this stable’ back-up we all need at times. So while Natalie rings the Préfecture on Monday, I will – Ryanair permitting – be in Dublin. I’ll only be there for a couple of hours though, is that long enough to claim a passport do you think?
This is the 54th Full English Brexit blog, and – hopefully – will be part of the book. When that book comes out is difficult to say, it’s with a brilliant agent and the feedback is good… but, you know, Brexit innit?
My other best-selling books are available here IAN’S BOOKS.