Sunday, 26 June 2016
They f*****d it up
That admirable human being RuPaul - to whom I've tried to apply something approximating to the colours of the EU flag - sent out a Referendum Day message with his/her famous catchphrase for the standoff at the end of each episode of RuPaul's Drag Race: 'And remember - don't f**k it up'. Sadly, the 52 per cent who wanted out were not in lipsynch with the r(R, Ru)emaining 48 per cent of us. Anyway, a good deal fewer of those want out now that the consequences have begun to hit so very quickly.
I'm told I should pity the disenfranchised working classes of the north and understand that they lashed out at the government, at a political elite which was bad but, for God's sake, not nearly as bad as the ones who manipulated them. Should they have been guided better? Certainly, but I still ask if it was too much for any of them to check the facts since one side failed to spoonfeed them sufficiently and the other constructed a campaign entirely out of lies.
The few Brexiters I've spoken to in recent days - anything but working class, like so many who voted for Brexit in areas with few or no immigrants - just parrot the lies and look startled when you tell them the truth. 'I had no idea' now becomes a refrain along with 'I didn't think my vote would count'. Sunderland 'had no idea' that £35 million from the EU kept their part of the world from collapsing completely once the government left them to rot. You couldn't make up the black comedy of the Cornish, having voted out, wanting the money the EU gave them to be continued by the Brexit regime.
So I cry shame on the whole pack of them, and have only one word, J's favourite as it happens (what a prophet!) - deluded. And I have no qualms about calling all, cynical leaders and misled populace alike, 'idiots' because the original word in classical Greek, ἰδιώτης, has the literal meaning of a person preoccupied with self-interest and just not concerned with the democratic good (the Athenians knew something about that). Don't forget - the one on the right is just as unprincipled and immoral, if not quite as stupid, as the one on the left, and not funny any more, if he ever was.
No way can he allowed to become Prime Minister (Theresa May and George Osborne aren't vastly better alternatives, either). Instead, the chance of a general election early next year should force the opposition to join forces and make sure we don't get another government even worse than this one. Just a reminder of one of the many things BJ wrote before flipping a coin.
And let's lay responsibility at tragic Cameron's door for thinking he could stifle the rabid fringes of his party.
I fear that the world will lump us Brits together as many of us did the Americans when George Dubbya became President. And yet we will protest that 48 per cent of us voters don't deserve that. I am proud to be a Londoner under Sadiq Khan's (so far) wise leadership. Guess on which side the person was here who turned his back when Khan was elected.
I'm especially proud that our borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, led by our superb Labour MP Andy Slaughter, voted 70 per cent to remain (56, 188 to Brexit's 24,054 - a 40 per cent majority, and again around 70 per cent for the turnout)*. I'm proud of my godchildren's generation, who voted 73 per cent to remain, and apologise to them from the bottom of my heart that a lot of selfish old people who are going to die soon did them over yet again** as if the last two governments haven't done enough. My 85-year-old, Daily Mail reading mum, I'm proud to say, wasn't one of them, and was heading that way anyway.
After the walking-on-air after ENO's electrifying Jenůfa (the mob versus Laura Wilde's desperate heroine pictured above by Donald Cooper) on Thursday night, Friday was one of the worst days I can remember. Went to bed at 1.30am in despair at the Sunderland result, had only the most superficial of sleeps, woke up again at 5am to worse. The physical nausea I felt, part ascribable to tiredness, seems to have been shared by everyone I know who's been in touch. There were two points of catharsis - one finally catching up with the most impassioned speech of the campaign, Sheila Hancock's, which maddeningly can't be shown on YouTube but is at the bottom of the page here. The other was meeting Claudia Pritchard after an indifferent Royal Opera Werther - diverting, no more - and having a cleansing rant and hug together.
But with the brighter dawn of Saturday morning came the realisation that the fight is back on, whatever happens in the forthcoming week. J, who has been remarkably phlegmatic throughout, took me for a belated birthday lunch at Pizarro on Bermondsey Street - perfect food in an unpretentious setting, with pork to die for. Fine Spanish wines, too.
The area is yet another which merits exploring - this is the row of houses and the Strawberry-Hill-Gothic church opposite the restaurant.
and I was wondering when someone would have the chutzpah to call a cafe this.
Storm building over the City and St Paul's as I crossed London Bridge
to reclaim my bike, left at Covent Garden the previous night because I was too exhausted to cycle home.
And then I got caught up, to my delight, in the Pride march.
Hadn't planned to go this year - copped out when the whistleblowing got too loud and a BBC producer I know got tinnitus when an ex-boyfriend blew one in his ear - but it was just the tonic. How far we've come since the police used to glare at us - one stepped out of line to propose to his man this year.
Plenty of displays of solidarity with immigrants, who are already having a hideous time, at least outside London which will always welcome them* (OK, so it's the Socialist Worker, but good on them).
and Euroflags, not least the one by this woman - J says he knows her - who was yelling furiously 'six million Jews murdered' over and over.
And yes, I see that the path to extermination camps and guns and violence starts here. We can't let it happen. Half the world doesn't want anything like this, let's bear that in mind - and fight to the very best of our abilities. More flags by way of hopeful finale.
*Yet I just read of a graffiti attack on the Polish Cultural Centre just down the road in King Street, Hammersmith, something that hasn't happened in its 50 years until now. And racist tweets are being catalogued diligently by the Polish community. All should be reported to the police as hate crime.
**Yet a great many didn't. One of my students just reminded me of this before today's class, when Linda Esther Gray came to talk about Isolde and Goodall. Linda, as a Scottish socialist, is passionate on the referendum fallout, and so were the students who joined us at lunch. They have so much energy and indignation, it feels as if we're of the same generation - I've had this sensation before when sharing lunch with my (then) 94 year old friend Elaine Bromwich and her American pal Tom Cullen, who left America because he was, like her, one of the communists when the name denoted noble ideals.