The weather gods are punishing us. When Leave voters were choosing a long-gone year to send us back to, they could have at least chosen one that had a blindingly hot, dry summer. One with a hosepipe ban. On Wednesday night, I had a fresh, zingy summer supper of… roast lamb. Drummer Boy wore a jumper to the pub last night. I’ve been trying to get him into knitwear for years; of all the times for him to come around to it, my money would not have been on “July 2016”.
Have I Got News For You, The Last Leg, Mock The Week (is that even still going? Is it just Andy Parsons monologuing to an audience of corpses these days?) and any other topical comedy programme now have enough material to last until the end of time, and well into the dawn of the next Time. Private Eye is the size of a large print Bible this week.
It’s still all young people’s fault, apparently. Earlier in the week, Twitter got all hot and frothy about the “fact” that only 36% of the 18-24 age group bothered to vote. “If they’d get their heads up from their smartphones and stop signing online petitions and whining about safe spaces” was the general gist of the criticism. Now, a) I’ve no idea how they came up with the 36% – with no exit polls, presumably this was based on a survey done before the referendum about intention to vote. And b) – someone hold my jacket, I’m going in – IF EVERY SINGLE PERSON WHO COMPLAINED ABOUT YOUNG PEOPLE NOT VOTING COULD COME UP WITH ONE – JUST ONE! – IDEA TO GET THEM POLITICALLY ENGAGED, THEN MAYBE THEY WOULD VOTE. Seriously, have these people never heard of “self-perpetuating cycles”?! There is no-one – not one politician, not one party – who has done anything to suggest that anyone gives a shit about people under 30 for the last six years. If there’s no one speaking to them, they won’t listen. Because there’s nothing to hear.
Suddenly, the people must be listened to. No-one listened to the people when they asked that we didn’t go to war with Iraq. No-one listened to the people when they protested against austerity. No-one listened to the people when they said “hey, we quite like junior doctors, Jeremy, stop being a massive dick to them”. The only time “the people” have been listened to recently is when they got all het up about some recipes. That is not solid enough ground on which to let “the people” lead us into political, cultural and economic suicide. Have you met people? People are stupid. People do things like watch The Voice, and give Nigel Farage a platform, and spend all day worrying they’ve made a terrible work-related mistake when it turns out it wasn’t them at all, it was their colleague, and if they’d just asked their colleague at like 10am, they could have avoided hours of crippling anxiety… Wait, what?
We found out what it was like to feel sorry for David Cameron. Not that sorry for him, mind – he was only reaping what’s been sown over the last two or three decades, and what his government heaped fertiliser on – i.e. the total and utter dismissal and alienation of the working classes and the poorest communities. And even worse, he’s made the rest of us reap it too – and it could all have been so easily avoided. I’ll be saying it until I run out of breath: we should never have had this referendum. Cameron rolled that dice because he thought he couldn’t lose, and in doing so, handed the dice to those had nothing left to lose. But it was hard not to feel for him a little as, voice audibly cracking, he gave his resignation speech last Friday. But I once took pity on a guy who’d been dating three of my friends simultaneously and got found out in spectacular fashion (I only gave him a hug when I came across him looking glum in a college corridor, don’t worry) – even complete idiots occasionally need a sympathetic “man, you fucked up, didn’t you?”
After all that, it’s not going to be a straightforward case of leaving the EU. The next PM may as well be walking into a building rigged with explosives – shit’s going to go off no matter what. If whoever it is is bold enough to trigger Article 50, they’re going to be the one who broke up the UK. If they don’t trigger it, they’re going to have a lot of explaining to do to 52% of the voting population. Right now it looks as though we’re not going to Leave or Remain – in classic British tradition, we’re going to find some middle-ground. An agonising non-decision. But hey, it’s better than an outright Leave, I guess.
Finally, the political got personal. I don’t say “finally” because I’m some chaos-loving nihilist who’s gunning for all-out revolution; I say “finally” because if this isn’t the thing that moves us into action, then nothing ever, ever will. It’s been the strangest seven days I’ve seen this country go through in 26 years. I arrived at the office last Friday into an atmosphere that can best be described as “bleak”. Every conversation until at least Wednesday afternoon included “so… Brexit, huh?” Four of my friends started blogs purely to write about their post-referendum ideas – and they’ve all turned out to be better writers than me, which stings a bit. Can’t decide whether I’m proud to have such clever, witty friends, or obscenely jealous. Drummer Boy and I had a proper argument about Jeremy Corbyn over dinner – you should have seen it: I was gesticulating madly, spoon in one hand, bowl of lemon meringue pie in the other. It’s stamped on our nerves, rather, hasn’t it? But I don’t think that’s entirely a bad thing. It means we – the university educated, middle-class, southern-city-dwelling types – might have to get over ourselves a little and think about how this country got to here. We might have to get out there and try some new things – start new parties, push even harder for voting reform, go back to the drawing board and rethink the system. It needs to come from us.