Pork Pie and porky pies.
It’s coming up for two weeks since the EU referendum and I’ve only just started to calm down. Not because there’s any more reason to calm down. If anything, things have escalated and it feels like events are just sweeping everyone along like rapid water now. But you can’t sustain the national hysteria we’ve just experienced. “A week is a long time in politics,” said Harold Wilson. Or rather, as he supposedly said. Sometimes I wonder if anyone ever really said any of those famous quotes, and where they came from, if they didn’t.
I was a Remainer, reluctantly laying out the British champagne for the Leavers. But even though the polls showed the creeping popularity of the Leave campaign, I never thought, really, they would win. It seemed that too big a proportion of the population was undecided, and surely they’d vote for the safe option, when it came down to it? But no, the country narrowly voted for the white knuckle ride instead. The plunging markets, the endless resignations, the still unbelievable news that there was no plan. The dawning media realisation that they really should have pressed the issue of that plan. The petitions, the talk of breaking up this disunited kingdom, the fractures that have riven this country in a way never experienced before. Fractures not only between the cities, who largely voted to remain, and the smaller towns and villages, which largely didn’t, but cracks between the generations, affecting family relations in an entirely new way. I know lots of people who either aren’t talking to their parents right now, or else are not talking to them about this, because the generation gap has never felt so wide.
I saw history being invoked time and time again as to why leaving the EU was a good idea – “we were alright before,” “we won two world wars,” – by people who are normally uninterested in history, and seemed to think this was a magic vote to bring back “the good old days”. Never mind lessons of real history, that we deal with conflict stronger together, and that this retreat into selfish, fearful behaviour is the exact opposite to Britain’s Finest Hour in the Second World War, where we were selflessly fighting to save Europe, and we did certainly not win it alone.
On Friday 24th June, still disbelieving that they’d done it, they’d really done it, I went to Aldi where a lovely, twinkly, elderly lady cooed over my toddler daughter. My immediate reaction was “Ugh. I bet you voted Leave, didn’t you?” And that’s here, in Liverpool, which voted Remain by a 58% majority, so the odds were against it. It was an ugly, black thought which I hated thinking.
On Saturday, as the lies of the Leave campaign lay trampled in the dust, and we appeared to be sailing adrift into uncharted waters as British politics descended into turmoil, I took the kids to the park. There was a lovely food fair on, stalls full of artisan pizzas, cheese and chutneys, and I thought I’d buy something for dinner. The pie stall looked appealing, especially one pie which was called “Old English Pork Pie”. The name put me off though, I’d gone off the English. My first thought was “Fuck everything old and English right now.” And for someone obsessed by the history of England, this thought was rather a departure from the norm.
The pie man won me over though, in a way guaranteed to work. He told me the pie was made to Mrs Beeton’s pork pie recipe and it was quite peppery too. A vintage recipe – well, for all my fury, I can’t resist those. And he was right, it was slightly spicy with cayenne pepper and it was easily the most delicious pork pie I’ve ever had.
I’ve never considered “Mrs Beeton” to be market of quality, necessarily. She was no cook herself, mostly compiling her recipes from other sources. But this is a good one.
We’re still adrift in uncertain waters. The lead rats have jumped ship so they can shout safety at a distance, telling us what should happen now and inevitably to criticise those who are doing the actual hard work that lies ahead of us now. The brass neck of Boris Johnson, laying into Number 10 for not having a plan (yes, they should have had – but so bloody well should he). The gall of Farage to take the European money to line his inactive MEP pockets while making a complete ass of himself (and us) in front of the EU Parliament, putting his ego before the good of his country, yet again. The discomforting danger of Gove, a man who clearly thinks everyone else is his intellectual inferior, and would lead us into some very dark alleys by thinking he knows everything better than anyone.
There’s the hope (getting fainter with every step of the Tory leadership manoeuvres) that maybe, just maybe, the whole thing won’t come off at all. And the hope that Labour will get a grip soon and give the Tories a long overdue bloody nose for what they’ve done.
I’m reading everything, but I don’t know what to do for the best. So I’ve had a necklace made, as a kind of thought bubble I can wear.
But I just can’t see how things will get better from a Brexit. I can’t see one positive thing right now. There’s what appears to be the likelihood of an imminent recession and then the gradual eroding of workers rights, which the Tories will of course attempt to get away with, without that pesky EU legislation holding them back. I suppose we have to wait and see. And there’s going be to no end of fighting back needed.