Those of you who read my earlier post on Brexit will know that the UK’s vote to leave the European Union on the 23rd of June really hit me for six. Friday the 24th of June and the days that followed were deeply shocking: sterling plummeted 10%, Scotland said it wanted independence (again), families were divided, the young blamed the old, remainers blamed the ‘uneducated’, and our leaders on both sides of the campaign decided that the the task was too huge, the metaphorical s**t had well and truly hit the fan and the only option was to sulk and resign (thank goodness there’s a woman who is able to be a grown up).
This is what Brexit is all about. Fan-bloody-tastic.
Many of us, myself included, saw a picture of a country that we didn’t identify with, a country that despises the ‘other’ and where its people feel it is okay to be aggressive and verbally abusive to anyone who is remotely different, a country whose citizens are small minded.
Admittedly, this situation was exaggerated by the media, and I can see that there are a broad spectrum of reasons why people voted to leave the European Union. Some of these reasons are logical. I am not convinced by any of them, but then I don’t need to be, because this is a democracy and I am just one person.
About a week after Brexit I read an article by a psychologist which reported that passionate ‘remainers’ (those who had voted for the UK to remain in the EU) had reported difficulty sleeping, panic attacks, lack of appetite and a low mood. Thank goodness I thought, this validates how I am feeling. It isn’t just me.
The day before reading this article I had told my mother that I felt slightly depressed about Brexit. She, a remain voter herself, suppressed a smirk that said “don’t be so melodramatic Pen, get things in perspective.” She was right of course, but then mothers always are. The vile attack in Nice, the terrifying response to the attempted military coup in Turkey and the spiralling situation in the US following the shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castille (check out #blacklivesmatter) certainly put my self-indulgent Brexit sulk into perspective.
It is only now, a month later, that I finally think I am beginning to get over my post-Brexit depression.
I found this TED talk about Brexit last week. There was one comment in Alexander Bett’s talk that really resonated with me.
He commented that when he looked at voting patterns across the country, what struck him is that he has spent very little of his life in any of the areas of the country that voted to leave European Union. The BBC’s website is probably the best place to find all of the voting outcomes in case you’re interested.
This is entirely true for me. In fact, I have probably spent a sum total of three days of my entire life in ‘leave’ areas, and that was over a decade ago when I used to visit my then boyfriend’s parents in Oldham, Lancashire.
It is easy for me to be open, inclusive and tolerant when I, in my London flat, am living in blissful ignorance of the lives of those who voted for Brexit. I don’t despise the ‘other’, I am just not sure that I have got a clue who they are. And that, my dear readers, is more than a little shameful.
So, six months after everyone else set, and then broke, their New Year’s resolutions, I am setting myself a new one:
Before this year, 2016, is out, I am going to visit three parts of the country which voted ‘leave’. I am going to ignore those voting districts which voted ‘leave’ by a narrow margin. I am going to chose those districts where the leave vote was convincing and unambiguous.
Cygnet my son, brace yourself, Boston (75.6% in favour of leave), South Holland (73.6% in favour of leave) and Castle Point (72.7% in favour of leave) here we come!
I can see I am going to need a map.
Let’s just hope there is a Starbucks…blissful ignorance strikes again…I’ll let you know.