Surprise. No, happiness. I still cannot shake the resentment that comes with a life of unreached goals and bitterness. Still cannot see past the end of my own nose. I am not English. Culturally there are similarities but ultimately it’s like comparing the US and Canada; neither are happy with it.
A few days after this initial lashing out I began to think about those who had managed to build themselves a life in the UK. How upset they were. How abandoned they felt. I wanted to feel sympathy for those ‘leavers’ who feel the government abandoned them and then decided to look for some more facts.
I found enough ‘facts’ to confirm my suspicions. That Thatcher’s vision of killing off northern England was finally coming to fruition. That the Eton Snobbery that ruled the UK had forsaken the once great cities of Yorkshire and Teeside and now the ‘great unwashed’ were getting a long sought after revenge of sorts.
Once that was done I made myself a cup of tea, quite happy with myself. Right as usual. Sitting here, alone, right as usual.
Then something occurred to me. I knew nothing more than what I had started with. I had pre conceived ideas and discriminated in their favour. Were my sympathies misguided, a result of a wasted youth, watching Corrie and reading about Liverpool FC’s history, pre and post Hillsborough?
There is nuance and detail in everything. Thatcher might have ended up as a paper mache figure of hate, burned on bonfires in Merseyside and Belfast. But in the late 70s a lot of people all over England had been very happy this hard working woman had arrived to bring some of her values to a bloated, over-unionized nation.
More reading was needed, more fact finding. But it was difficult. Google ‘ten good things David Cameron has done’ and nothing will come up. Google ‘British Cities David Cameron has visited’ and you’ll struggle.
I think that is the nuance I was searching for. The media, be it traditional or online, never really made their minds up about this guy. In turn, it was easy for those who felt forgotten to take what they did know about their latest commander in chief and use it against him.
The man with a rich education, he who had the audacity to hold a bank account in Panama, he who never opened a community centre in Middlesboro.
This Brexit was the result of similar miscommunication. A half-baked effort by both Labour and Tory to stay in the EU with the promise of newly added caveats which the working class quite rightly had no reason to believe would come to fruition.
There were further things to consider. Most had voted to leave because of their stance on immigration. UKIP for their part claimed this was low on their list of priorities, despite some very choice ad campaigns.
On this side of the water, there was more to consider.The North have enjoyed a relative period of calm in the last 20 years, mainly due to an improved and inclusive economy. Should this be now under threat, because an old mining town had been screwed over before I was even born?
It occurred to me my sympathy lay with people I had very little in common with, barring perhaps an interest in football. Sure we all love that.
Again nuance comes to the fore. You might be right about the government brazenly telling lies to get your vote. But that has always been the case. Before the EU, before the World Wars, right back to the swords and sandals days. The key difference in other societies is the realization that no matter occurs, a government can only do so much for a person.
And for that reason, my initial feelings of perverse vindication, delight that the so called working class got one over on their upper crust superiors, has dissipated. They are still right, and probably will be ’til they die.
I am not one of these people. Because if I am I will spend what’s left of my life looking for something that isn’t there. An enemy. Let’s face it, hating Bono or whoever else is sitting in the Irish golden circle isn’t going to help me succeed. Distinguishing between a bout of sustained unhappiness and outright depression might be more helpful. Life is short and time must be used wisely. Let those who are right, be right. For the rest of us, we must carry on, occasionally with calm, but more so with haste.
To quote another Eton snob who managed to overcome his own melancholia.
“I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time”