The Word Rabbit

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This article was written on 20 May 2017, and is filled under Uncategorised.

Hating beige (and Theresa May)

How do you hate beige? I mean, it’s just a bland colour, the kind of thing you’d paint the toilet or that small room under the stairs, surrendering to a brief lapse in imagination and a desire to get the process over with in a single trip to Homebase. ‘Bugger it,’ you say over the paint charts, bored with the options and bewildered by talk of doing it in one coat, or feature walls and paint that seals out damp. ‘Let’s just do it beige and leave it there.’ But it turns out that you can hate beige or, to bring this tortured metaphor to a close, you can hate Theresa May’s talk of the mainstream.

And the reason why is that that’s what she thinks the people of this country are. A great, seething mass of beige, with no hopes or aspirations beyond watching TV on Saturdays and a job that will involve staring off to a distant horizon with the dead eyes of a recently landed cod. Now, I’ve met and interviewed hundreds and hundreds of people and I’ve yet to meet a beige person or, at least, a person who despite looking beige on the outside, is actually more interesting than they might want to appear. And once you realise that you’re not beige, that you’re not, heaven forfend, an ‘ordinary’ person, but a unique one with hopes, dreams and thoughts all of your own, the idea of someone, a politician, perhaps, sticking you in that category becomes hateful.

Beige might be safe, beige might be reassuring and living beige might involve never needing to expose yourself, but it’s no way to live your life, because your personality will stubbornly push itself through at the edges. For years I thought I was beige, because my parents held it out as an aspiration, a thing to achieve, but it turned out life had other plans. I grew tastelessly tall, talk far too loudly and indiscreetly, and have none of the habits that they wanted me to have as they would help me blend in. To me, all cheese smells like poo, wine tastes like vinegar and my favourite food is lasagna and chips. These are not the thoughts I was designed to have.

I also went to university, where, because I am an inveterate showoff, I fell in with the drama society and then hamfistedly set about having a career in the media. Even if I hadn’t done these things, my personality would have manifested itself in other ways, because that’s how life works. As it is, I have mildly transgressive sexual tastes, an infinite attraction to crossdressing and a love of whatever is outside soceital norms which is wholly independent of my career and education, so you get the idea. I’m in no way strange or three-headed or likely to hide in bushes wanking, but am generally unlikely to scare any horses or incite revolution.

Enough, though, to mean that I know I’m not ‘beige’ and that I will resist the ‘ordinary’ label which Theresa May would like to put on me with every fibre of my being. I think taxes should rise on top earners, that Brexit should be reversed and that Nigel Farage should be pushed over. I think that a society which fails to take care of its most vulnerable is not fit to call itself a society, that people who vote Tory are either thick or heartless or possibly both and that Enoch Powell should be dug up and set on fire. All of these things commend themselves to me, and none of them strike me as being ordinary. You’re almost certainly the same.

So I do hate beige. I do hate the colour white when it has a ‘hint’ of something, like mouse jism or tubercular cough, I hate the word ‘nice’ and I hate Coldplay. And when May said that she was talking to ‘mainstream’ Britain, I knew she wasn’t talking to me and I knew that she didn’t understand what her job meant, effectively saying that she wanted votes from people who were either too stupid to think they’d ever grow old or so mendacious that they need them to believe it, so that she could get on with selling things off and enacting policies that will never, ever affect the lives of her and her rich friends who, mainly, live in a consequence-free world.

Danish writer Aksel Sandemose wrote about a fictional village called Jante in which people were preoccupied by standing out, such that conformity was the most important quality. Today, this mindset still exists among the Danes, such that similar behaviour is said to be ‘Jantelovian’ or to smack of ‘Jantelovianism.’ This is what May wants in the UK, with her insistence that we are all mainstream, and all beige. Bugger that. I don’t care what I’m threatened with or how puce the bloke at the next table goes in Sainsbury’s cafe when I call Nigel Farage a goose-stepping smear on the kecks of humanity, Theresa May and beige can bollocks.

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