July 28, 2021

Rueful Britannia

The Cracks start to show for Britain and Europe as Brexit and Article 50 is looming.

The day had been a long time coming, there had been ups and downs as in all long relationships, finally, Brit had said she was going. Some had said it had always been a marriage of convenience, others said they´d seen sparkles of real love at times, several aged relatives mumbled that they were just too different. Brit had certainly been lively, “a colourful” character with a “protracted” youth, You was a bit staid, never really the life of the party, a plodder. But a solid plodder, whenever Brit had a low after a high, he was just still there, like an ancient Subaru he just kept on rolling.

The day, when it finally came, was unspectacular, wet, grey and slightly warmer than usual for the time of year. They were still on speaking terms, neither had organised a proper removal firm so various items left the house in dribs and drabs, a favourite kettle here, the old stereo from upstairs laid in a tattered cardboard box, both were unsure what to do about the old records and couldn´t quite remember who had bought the Bob Marley ones, the record player hadn´t worked for quite some time.

They made tea in the kitchen together one last time, both stared into their mugs and weren´t sure what to say, what can you say after all those years, it´s hard to find words to do justice to everything. Eventually, they talked about the neighbours for a while, particularly Boris and Katia up the road who used to have a star over their corner shop door and used to throw a damn good party and Sam, who´d gone a bit funny in recent years, had become a bit of a recluse but still had fairy lights and stars in all the downstairs windows. They had all got older, some things had got better, others had got worse, it could sometimes be a very lonely planet. Brit tipped her mug when the bottom came into view, the tea was definitely cooler now but there was some warmth left in the mug, it was time to leave (again). She downed the last mouthful of tea, it left a bitterish taste which would probably only abate after more tea elsewhere. Gathering various belongings, car keys and nick-nacks Brit headed for the door in an uncertain fashion, not sure what to say, it probably didn´t matter now. You tried to be helpful in a dispirited sort of way, holding doors open, nudging stuff out of the way, it didn´t matter now much either but it seemed to be the right thing to do.

As they reached the front door they both said “see you tomorrow” and, surprised at each other, smiled sheepishly. It didn´t feel much like a new beginning, more like act three of a play that was starting to drag on a bit, the interval had been too short and the queues for the loos too long.

On days like these, the nearest pub is always an option, drinking more than necessary and wondering later where the afternoon went, You checked the garage on his way out and found that the old bike was still in there behind a stack of gardening stuff, leaf bags and defunct mower parts. People in Tottenham and Hinckley can turn pain into triumph, he thought, get the bike dusted off, see if it starts and head off into the tired afternoon. A new day had started in the dark and wasn´t old yet, still some time to make something of it.

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