Full English Brexit #62

Sunday, November 12th, 2017

Away From the Numbers

I reckon Luke Skywalker had it about right. There’s a man who spent the late 70’s/early 80s rescuing the known universe and destroying evil, only to see his legacy trashed ten years later with humourless and insipid CGI pap. ‘Not for me.’ He said, took himself off to a craggy planet somewhere, stuck a Do Not Disturb sign on the door and spent his days growing a moody beard. Or, he was found sending dick-pics to Maz Kanata and just decided to disappear for a while. It’s difficult to know these days.

Anyway to be able to just clear off like that, man alive. I think I’m now just one slight push from doing the same.

Of course, moving to France in the first place was supposed to be that move. No neighbours, actual personal parking space and a big ‘talk to the hand’ attitude to keep the real world at bay. I’ve swapped beard cultivation for home-made chutney production it’s true, and I don’t think Skywalker has plans to turn his quiet corner into a B&B retirement project but there are parallels. And anyway, it’s the principle. The B&B has now been nearly a year in development. Planning permission was finally granted late summer; EDF, you know one of those state-owned businesses that Jeremy Corbyn says don’t exist under EU law, have taken five minutes from buying up UK utilities to extend our own small network. We’ve managed to build a new stable for the horse and finally, after some months of neglect, I mended the perimeter fence that the goats had trashed previously in their on-going desire to make my life a goat-Hell. It’s very satisfying mending fences I can tell you, there’s not enough of it about. Ask the Foreign Secretary.

Building work, should we ever agree to the quotes, could begin in the new year, and my Chambres d’hôtes will (might) be open next autumn. The name of the place, À la Belle Étoile (Under the Stars) is a romantic allusion to the stunning Loire starry nights and that also, for now, the place has no roof. We are obviously hoping that a roof will be part of the package, but there’s no hurry, it’s a retirement project after all.

Except that there does feel the need for hurry. I tried months ago to step away from the endless, vitriolic circle of finger-pointing, recrimination and borderline-criminal incompetence, but I just can’t. It reminds me of days as a teenager, spent on the sofa, refreshing teletext to get the latest, exact, cricket score. The information, the sheer speed at which things are not happening means being glued to social media and news websites, each fresh scrap of news or unsubstantiated innuendo could have an enormous bearing on mine, and millions of others’ lives. The same old arguments won’t go away, control, sovereignty, economic freedom and so on. Abstract, ideological statements of desire or anger. All totally, for me, missing the point. The point is people. Approximately five million people, whose lives have been in limbo since the referendum and who are too easily dismissed. It happens regularly. Brexit will rear its ugly, divisive head, some people will leave the room and I will always, for the millionth bloody time, say that I don’t care about your economics, your sovereignty or your control. Though obviously, the economics are circling the drain, sovereignty was never lost and your ‘control’ could best be described as ‘out of’. What matters to me is people. What concerns me the most, and yes selfishly, are the families that will inevitably be split up unless all rights are kept as they are for people who moved to either the UK or the EU before an agreed cut off date. No quibbles about extended families or earnings. The same rights as they were. If those rights are not kept, then you are effectively introducing retrospective legislation meaning that some families will be split up.

I say this a lot and I’m always met with the same thing. A patronising smile, an ‘oh dear’ amused shake of the head. ‘As if,’ the other person is saying, ‘as if that would ever happen.’ Here? The UK? In the 21st century? Well who says it won’t happen? There have been no concrete guarantees at all, both sides play games, both using the situation (less so the EU, but they are guilty too) to gain some leverage. Yet for five million people for 500 days a cloud has hung over every family moment. A fear. An insidious, gnawing disquiet that a decision you made in good faith, legally, a right you held, will be taken away at any moment. A country you’ve contributed to socially, culturally and financially will come through your door and go, ‘Right. You stay. You go.’ No arguments. The condescending smirks continue though because people don’t want to think about that, they don’t want the guilt. Well I’m afraid you will have the guilt and no amount of ‘we didn’t mean you’ will make that go away. And when families are split up you’d better be prepared to drive that bus to Dover because that’s how responsible you are.

Still, what am I worried about? The bloke who owns Wetherspoon’s says it’s all being exaggerated anyway. The very apotheosis of the dogmatic pub bore says it will be fine. That’s alright then. Grimsby, on the other hand, having voted 70% Leave, now wants a ‘Brexemption’ from their decision to leave the EU so that the EU can save the local industry that the EU destroyed. As does Cornwall’s farming industry. As does the catering and hospitality trade. As does Banking. As does car manufacturing. Surely these requests, if politicians weren’t so busy hoarding a private wealth or making lewd comments at one another, would be a strong sign that the product, Brexit, was staggeringly mis-sold. This is a PPI scandal on a national, economic scale perpetrated by people salting away billions from the national coffers while at the same time lecturing about ‘belt-tightening’ and poppy wear. It’s not just money these people have hidden away under their magic money palm-trees, it’s morality, decency and courage.

And there it goes again, the impotent rage, the blood pressure levels, the fragile mental health. It might be time to do a proper Skywalker. I’ll slip my arthritic right hand into a symbolic black glove and sail away into solitude and Brexit-less serenity. Get away from it all, hide from it really. But in a year or so, if all goes to plan, maybe you’ll be able to join me there.

This is the 62nd Full English Brexit blog, so far it has had hundreds of thousands of reads, which is just lovely. It will  – hopefully –  be part of a book. But 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?

If you can RT or share, please do. And this week, one of the lucky word-spreaders could win a paperback, kindle or audio version of one of these beauties IAN’S BOOKS.  

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  • Ade morris says:

    Yet another perfectly mod-erate, mod-est, mod-ern take on the travesty that is Brexit, I tilt my hat to you sir

  • Linda Harbour says:

    I feel guilty every time I DONT read one of your posts because I’m looking forward to reading them as a whole in your next book, but then I start reading ‘just a few lines’. Maybe if I read it with only one eye that will make it okay. Honestly though I’m loving the fact that there is another book on the horizon but could there maybe be a few short stories until that time to be going on with please?

  • Joanna Clarke says:

    Feel exactly the same Ian; you’re not alone – not that this helps or changes anything, unfortunately. I have an English son and French grandson in France and French and German friends in the UK whose futures are in jeopardy. Keep up the wonderful writing and let’s hope that common sense (and the common market, as it used to be called) prevails for all our sakes.

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