In a week, how everything changes. I had started to write something about the silver linings of Brexit, but then I lost my job and now I think any silver linings are massively overrated. I had a plan to point out the good things that were to be found lurking around the shadows of the sad old shitstorm Britain feels like it has become, like the fact that it was Eid last week and cause for celebration for a whole lot of lovely people. And there were two days off school, because our school has inset days set on Eid in a stroke of pragmatic brilliance because the Muslim kids probably wouldn’t turn up on Eid, and so Tuesday inset day was coupled with a teachers’ strike and it was all FUN CITY with a weekend stapled into the week. This should actually happen much more on a regular basis in real life, because then we could take our kids to the Natural History Museum and buy them stuff and drive around and consume and spend and pick raspberries and see friends and the economy may well improve, as would our relationships, fitness and eduction levels. But that is another topic for when I run the world.
So the other silver linings, which frankly I see now as grasping for straws, was that I thought the apparent political mobilisation of everyone was a good thing – because the referendum fallout continues to make everyone feel something; whether it makes you feel sad, angry, self-righteous, bored, depressed, worried or outraged, at least some kind of collective political cognisance has been injected into people. And it does feel good to be part of something bigger than you, although what a stupidly high cost to get there. All the debates and the Guardian columns and the pleas and the petitions and the marching – if only this level of interrogation had been thrown about before the Leave voters decided to flip the rest of the country the bird. And Westminster! Oh I wish I was Scottish right about now, and could claim that Nicola Sturgeon as my own – she’s another Aunty Helen.
Frankly, all of it would have been a brilliantly funny and quite ridiculous political satire show if it wasn’t all actually real.
Back To Silver Linings Though
The other silver linings are lovely little things like this:, the Michael Gove public ribbing which is mean and marvellous and lets ordinary people heckle and insult and make it funny, because if you aren’t laughing, you are weeping under a table somewhere, hugging your Polish friends close and remembering when you too were a European like them. The uncertainty about what Brexit means is just vile – it gets you up in the middle of the night to check that you remembered to make your kids NZ citizens as well at British passport holders because if Middle England gets it into its head to annex itself off from the Commonwealth too then you will be between countries, uncertain of welcome in either place.
And finally, the other thing that made me very happy was that I introduced my children to the ’80s cartoon Jem and The Holograms when I saw it spring up on Netflix, because I loved it when I was a chubster kid and I had lots of the dolls and knew all of the songs, so we rediscovered it together, although I was expecting them to shudder and cringe and tell me what terrible taste I must have had as a mulleted nine year old, but instead they too were enchanted by the utter magic of Jerrica and her mansion full of attractive tuneful orphans and now they are ripping through every episode and singing the theme tune all the time. And Ned has sidled up to me and asked me whether I still have the dolls so he could carry on the Hasbro plastic rockstar collecting legacy. And I thought how wonderful it is to have children to do this to.
So this was what I was going to write about, but now it feels like the pointless and desperate mutterings of the formerly employed. Because last Thursday I went to work, wrote my feature on a Nazi looted art hunter, and then got told that there was no more budget for freelancers and so thanks, but goodbye. And I was brave and tried not to cry in the office in front of the boss and so grabbed my stuff and went to pick up the children from school and only then did ugly face noisy crying for a bit outside the school gates. I spent a few days with a stone in my wizened, sad old heart and had blinky tears and told myself that yes, it is true – I am not much use to anyone from an employment perspective and moped BADLY. The boss mentioned Brexit as being a part of the reason why they are so nervous about the magazine’s budget and so I confess that now I feel Brexit voters are a tiny bit collectively culpable for my fun, useful and flexible job being taken away from me. This is probably unfair but this is no time for logical fairness analyses. Tis is a time for feeling a bit shit.
And then! Noah broke Casper’s hand last night by crushing it in the garden gate and we spent five hours in the A&E and now the poor kid cannot swim in Northern Cyprus. Instead he shall watch us frolic about in the turquoise water from a boat, all sweaty and itchy and sun-creamed and behatted in 40 degree heat, plastic bag-wrapped and probably deeply resentful. So it’s all going JUST SWIMMINGLY, thanks.
Here is a secret gig with Suggs from Madness and the Roxy Music sax guy at the Soho Food Feast last weekend. This was a bit of magic, an *actual* good thing:
And Casper in a suit, on the way to the Natural History Museum, for no reason at all, when his bones were all intact:
Suggestions for making his summer holiday bearable gratefully received.
So sorry re job! Between that and Brexit ~ What is status on discussion of moving back to NZ these days? Thank you for posting and sharing Brexit from being there.
Well, I still do not want to leave. And the eldest has gotten into an amazing secondary school through an art aptitude programme, so we will sit it out for a year. Hopefully we will have a general election and try to get sensible adults to represent us and obviously I deeply wish that Article 50 will not be kicked off, and then things could get a little bit calmer, though I wonder how much damage has been done already. So, we are waiting it out, I guess.
It has been downgraded to a splint, and in two weeks he will either have surgery and another cast or will be miraculously healed and then nothing on his poor little limbs at all. They don’t seem to do waterproof casts which seems a bit backwards, yes? If they can land people on the moon, etc, then why can’t casts cope with swimming, I ask you?
aw. thats sucks!
I wonder if our netflix has gem and holograms! Im off to enlighten my kids too if they do!
I wish you all of the episodes. Go binge, mate!
I am sorry you have lost your job and also that you are feeling so miserable. I would like to reassure you that those of your readers who voted in favour of Brexit (I accept I maybe the only one) did not do so in order to cause harm to you personally or indeed to any individual. We did so because we believed it to be in the best interests of our country. It seems the result is being treated as a national disaster by some living a privileged lifestyle in London. I had enjoyed your blog for the insight it had given me into this world – so different from the world of rural poverty in which I live – but I cannot bear the implication that people like me are knuckle-dragging, swastika-tattooed chavs. I am just a very poor artist living in rural Devon. Speaking of which, for the school holidays, why not get your lovely boys out of the capital, which seems to me to be dangerously awash with negative vibes, and take them camping for a couple of weeks. They can gather firewood and inspect hedgerows and peer down rabbit holes. They will enjoy it. Devon is nice.
You are right that the implication that Leave voters are all stupid racists is a wrong and lazy one, but it is true that the Leave campaign was heavy on this issue, as well as all sorts of deceptions on both sides (as we all see so clearly now). I just find it hard to understand why people voted Leave and how it would really help to fix things. Certainly there are valid reasons for people to be angry and people should be able to voice that and to insist we make changes that will benefit everyone here, not just those who live in London and other areas of relative wealth; there is no doubt that the divide between rich and poor in the country is a total disgrace.
You are certainly not the only Leaver who reads my blog and London is of course awash with people who voted Leave and would still do so if they had the chance again. I am sorry to be so quick to lump everything at the feet of those who voted differently from me in this case – but I am feeling a bit like this has all been an exercise in self-destruction and as someone who has been directly affected, it is all a bit shit. Regardless, it is good and right to have these discussions and to see things from different perspectives; I may well see things like my job loss differently when I get over myself. I am very glad to hear from you – thanks for commenting. And I really love Devon – we visit at least once a year.
Sorry for your troubles. Shit things all come lumped together (in my case, a migraine, kiddie nits and a 6 yr old’s birthday ice-cream cake which refused to freeze – all in one afternoon. but even migraine and nits is better than losing your job. Sorry.) Now, re the broken hand – people in Singapore seem to be a clumsy lot, limbs broken all over the place, and I’m forever seeing kids kitted out in waterproof covers for their casts as they splash about in the water.
Something like this: https://www.drypro.ie/products/arm-protection/ Which is from an irish company- (if you want one and can’t get it delivered to london, you have send it to me here and I can either bring it to london with me at the end of the month or post it on to you.) Otherwise, google “waterproof covers for casts” and see what sorcery the worldwideweb throws at you.
In the meantime, I am forever recommending gin as a tonic for all of life’s woes (except, alas, migraines. And, I suppose nits.) but I swear it helps with the general daily ills which life throws at you.
I’m very sad that you lost your job and about the poor wee boy’s hand. Just wanted to say (again!) that I think you’re wonderful. I know a little bit about writing personal stuff on the Internet and how most people are nice and some people are very not nice and how those not nice people are often far more memorable. So I know what an emotional risk one takes in putting honest things out into a sometimes unkind world. In case you needed to hear something nice from an Internet stranger: I appreciate you and love your work.
That is precisely what I needed to read – thank you!
Great writing as ever. I’ve been saving this to read and am always sad when it’s over.
Casper’s broken hand holiday ruination reminds me of that episode of the Simpsons when they get a pool but Bart breaks his leg and goes twitchy crazy mad watching everyone from his room, having a great time a la Hitchcock in that great film I can’t remember the name of.
Move back home! To New Plymouth though cz that’s where we’re moving in 2 months. Eek xxx