It was just after ten when I woke up. I was on a sofa-bed in Rome. And I looked at my phone and discovered that the British public had voted by a narrow margin to leave the European Union.
I got up and made a coffee, and whilst it brewed I browsed the news websites. Each one spoke of what a massive, life-changing thing had happened, and speculated on what was likely to happen next. Of course, they had no idea, but they weren’t about to let that stop them. And over a thousand days later, they are still none the wiser.
I scrolled down my Facebook feed, and what I saw depressed me. Everybody was so bummed out. It surprised me how bummed out they were – I had been living in Rome for a while at this point, and so I hadn’t discussed Brexit with most of my friends.
I discovered that – like myself – most of the people I knew had voted to remain. Some because they loved the idea of EU membership. Some because they saw no compelling reason to leave. And many, because they were suspicious of committing to any course of action whose most vociferous champions were a trio of cunts like Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, and Nigel Farage.
I went out onto the balcony with my coffee and sat in the hot sun listening to the streets of Rome below. If I just focused on the sound, I didn’t think about Brexit. But then I couldn’t help it. Through no fault of my own, I kept returning to it again and again.
Mainly I was thinking of Emma – my new Danish fiancee. We had only just begun. How was this thing going to affect us? Oh, God, life sure felt a lot simpler yesterday…
I was at my limit – which isn’t saying much – and so, sitting in the hot sun, beseiged by my worries, coffee long finished, I reached for the only thing I knew could comfort me – Marcus Aurelius. And as I always do, I found something to settle me:
“Does what’s happened keep you from acting with justice, generosity, self-control, sanity, prudence, honesty, humility, straightforwardness, and all the other qualities that allow a person’s nature to fulfill itself?”Marcus Aurelius – Meditations, Book 4
Next week’s election
As we hurtle towards the climax of what has been undoubtably the nastiest British election campaign in my lifetime, I know without a shadow of a doubt which horse I’m betting on to win, just as I did in the EU referendum. And I’m sure you know yours too.
But my plea for you is this: whether your horse wins, or a different horse wins, don’t let it ruin you.
I have no desire to be apolitical in my writing – I think that to describe our current government as scum would be incredibly generous. They lie, they cheat, they have nothing but contempt for the citizens of this country… and they get away with it because they have the billionaires who run the media in their pocket.
I want them out. I want them gone. Not because they’re Tories, but because they’re both ineffective and immoral – crap and evil. And that’s not exactly a killer combo for leading a country.
HOWEVER, if they do win – no matter how ill-gotten I might believe their victory to have been – that is the reality I must then come to face. I can argue with the sky until I’m blue in the face, but if they win, there is only thing I can ask myself:
“Does the fact that this happened stop me from doing what I believe to be the right thing?”
And so far, the answer to that question has never been “yes.”