I don’t seem to blog much these days. I’ve always gone in more for the sort of pieces that could be described as ‘reflections’ than the ‘yesterday I went to…’ sort, and perhaps the reflections are running dry. Why not more description? Why not a bit more joy and delight?
Why not, indeed? Except that at the moment I’m not feeling very joyful. I haven’t been well and that always seems to lower the spirits, as do the short dark days; the reality of ageing and death feels more present as my birthday approaches; and my writing has hit a slump that I’ve been bad at getting out of. Perhaps I can’t really do it after all… Last night I had a dream about writing and writers. Two images in it that stood out were a flimsy house with no floor that was hung up on a line and flapping in the wind, and a tiny hut that had a floor of sorts, made of thin chipboard, but no proper door and ramshackle walls. I could apply those images to other situations in my life – and the nature of life itself – as well as to what’s happening in the world.
I was at a dinner party last night where the majority of people were (to me) unrealistically positive about Britain’s recovery after a hard Brexit. Business would soon be up and running again, we’d still be on good terms with the EU and we’d have all sorts of opportunities to develop in our own way, manufacturing our own goods, formulating our own environmental policies, trading with everyone and anyone, and above all being free from the shackles of the European super-state. If only… Maybe history will turn out to be on their side, but it seems to me so much is against us, from the kind of government we have and are likely to have to the fact that countries aren’t going to be falling over themselves to trade with us when they can get a better deal and easier access elsewhere. Not to mention the fact that, restrictive and cumbersome as it sometimes is, EU legislation has given us standards of some sort – flawed though they may be – for human rights, employment rights, environmental protection and, yes, health and safety, which our present government has been all too willing to do away with and future Tory leaders are keen to dismantle even more. According to Jacob Rees-Mogg it would be a good thing if our industries were run more like those in India, where the level of safety is appalling and employers have had the right to pay their employees as little as they like. And without EU legislation there will be less to stop dodgy American goods and foodstuffs – like the notorious chlorinated chicken – and American-style employment practices, with minimal rights for workers, becoming the norm here. This is even without the ‘special relationship’, which has become a myth since the arrival of the ever-unpredictable Trump.
Those who support Brexit and continue to see it in a positive light will say I’m unduly pessimistic and the benefits of taking back our sovereignty – such as it is – will outweigh the poverty and hardship which everyone admits will follow from a hard Brexit, at least in the short term. And this may well become an excuse for greater ‘austerity’, even though our present level has already been condemned by the UN as causing unacceptable deprivation to people at the bottom end of society. I certainly don’t see membership of the EU as all good: it’s a neoliberal organisation that’s willing to impose harsh sanctions on members who don’t toe the line financially – look at what’s happened to Greece – but I honestly can’t see how we’ll be better off without it.
In the end only time will tell. We don’t know what’s going to happen and how it will all turn out, and I may not be around long enough see such good as it may bring – assuming we’re not overtaken by global warming and environmental disaster, which this current government isn’t up for doing much about. But I wish I could be as sanguine as those who still have confidence in Brexit.